I was browsing through “Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars,” by Ceil Dyer, when my eye was caught by a recipe for Honeybear Brownies. There may be some stalwart bakers out there who could resist making something called ” Honeybear Brownies,” but I am not one of them, and very shortly, I was in the kitchen baking. The very name made me think of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh having tea beneath a a shady oak on a beautiful summer’s day.
To be honest, I made these without great expectations, because I had tasted enough overly-sweet “healthy” cookies made with honey to feel really enthusiastic. But, I forged onward. I made these brownies twice, once with regular baking cocoa, and once with Dutch-process cocoa.
As it turned out, these are great brownies, and will be my BBF (Best Brownie Forever), though I hesitate to call any brownie “the greatest,” because if you are a dark chocolate/fudgey brownie lover, these may not be for you. But if I were to quote from my imaginary “Field Guide to the American Brownie,” these are “moist and cakey, with honey undertones melding beautifully with the butter.”
Rather to my surprise, I enjoyed the version made with the plain baking cocoa, because it really let the honey and butter flavors shine, without being overly sweet.
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup unsifted flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Grease one 9-inch square pan. Cream butter and sugar in a small bowl: blend in honey and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts. Pour into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from edge of pan. Cool in pan. Makes 16 brownies.
Baking notes: The easiest way to measure the honey is to use a scooping measuring cup (not a Pyrex measuring cup), and to lightly oil it. The honey will slither easily out of the scoop.
Speaking of honey, my sister gave me little bottle of honey made by the bees at Lurie Garden, in downtown Chicago. It is incredibly delicious. While the label notes that the honey has a “lemony-linden-minty” taste, to me it conjured up–with startling intensity– a beautiful summer’s day full of sunshine, bees, and fragrant wildflowers.