In the early eighties some kind of cultural lid came off, and we entered the age of excess. Food had to be over the top, and “luxury” was the byword. Suddenly, Aunt Mildred’s Chocolate Cake wasn’t enough, we had to have the Triple Chocolate Better Than Sex with Robert Redford Cake. When confronted with such a Cool Whip-slathered extravaganza, I kept to myself the thought that I liked Aunt Mildred, and was intimidated by the thought of sex with Robert Redford, however unlikely it might be. Brownies suddenly couldn’t just be brownies: we had triple chocolate brownies, brownies oozing with caramel, and brownies sagging under the weight of an ice field of melted marshmallow. I’ve grown weary of it all, and have come back to the brownies my Mom made, called Saucepan Brownies. By modern standards, they are suspiciously plain: shouldn’t we be adding a bag of caramels, or a can of sweetened condensed milk? No. They are for setting out on a counter on a Saturday afternoon, and for being gone a few hours later. Having said that, you can also dress them up a bit with a powdered sugar stencil, and serve with ice cream for Sunday dinner–that would be nice.
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
2 (1-oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs and sugar to chocolate mixture and beat with a large spoon until the mixture is smooth. Add dry ingredients, and stir in nuts, if desired. Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. It’s better to underbake these than to overbake.
Note: If baking in a Pyrex baking dish, lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. They will take about 20-22 minutes. For the powdered sugar design, I used a stencil I found at a garage sale, but you can also find inexpensive stencils at craft stores. Or, you could fold a piece of paper in half and cut out a heart. Open up, and smooth, and you can stencil with that.