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What do I need to make brownies

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brownies and milk
With a few ingredients, these tempting brownies are only minutes away!
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Wondering what do I need to make brownies? A little of this, a little of that!

Rich fudge brownies. Decadent cake brownies. Frosted brownies. Layered brownies. No matter how you make them, brownies are that one thing that always goes first at the bake sale, always gets loaded onto plates first at the potluck.

If you've never made them at home, or if you've settled for boxed mixes, you might be wondering what do I need to make brownies from scratch?

The answer is, not a lot. A few simple ingredients, a 9"x13" baking pan, an oven ... and an ice cold glass of milk to wash down that first hot-from-the-oven brownie, and you'll be set.

Ready to learn? Here are the details!

The tools for perfect brownies

No matter what type of brownies you're making, you'll need:

  • A measuring cup (or a set of measuring cups)
  • A set of measuring spoons
  • A medium sized mixing bowl (in a pinch, a large pot will do!)
  • A second bowl for combining the dry ingredients
  • A wooden or plastic mixing spoon
  • A spatula or a regular tablespoon
  • A 9" x 9" baking pan, preferably a nice heavy metal baking pan although glass will do
  • A knife to cut the brownies

If you're making cake-style brownies. you may also need:
  • A hand mixer or a stand mixer

If you're adding raisins or dried fruit (more details on that below), you will also need:

  • A small bowl filled halfway with warm water

There are other things when you're making brownies, like a sifter to sprinkle powdered sugar over them when they've cooled, or a small spatula to make removing the brownies from the pan easier, but those are optional and not a must for the "what do I need to make brownies without a mix" list!

Brownie add-on's

If you're a brownie purest, skip to the recipe below and start baking!

But if you're a bit of a kitchen adventurer, I want to give you some ideas for ingredients you can add to the simple version to create your very own signature brownie recipe. Try one of these, or combine several to build a one-of-a-kind dessert your friends will be begging for at your next potluck or bake sale. 

Nuts: chopped pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts all work well. Make sure they're chopped fairly small (about the size of a pea) so they cook evenly

Chocolate chips: Sure, brownies are already chocolate (except those "blond" kind, which do not count in my book!) but adding more chocolate is a good thing.

Peanut butter chips: A natural taste combination!  'Nuff said!

Raisins: This is my kids' favorite. Think Chunky bars or one of those Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars.  If you use raisins, soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes, drain them, and then lightly toss them with about a teaspoon of flour.  That will keep them from burning and from settling to the bottom of your pan.

Dried fruit: Cranberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, mango and prunes all work very well. Make sure to cut the larger dried fruit into raisin-sized pieces, and follow the prep directions for raisins to make sure the fruit doesn't burn.

Extracts: Adding a teaspoon of almond, peppermint or other extracts to your brownies can bring out a whole new taste. Be careful combining these, though.  What tastes good alone can get nasty when it's combined!

Spices: Cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cardamon and cloves are all excellent choices for adding a new taste to basic brownies.  If you're feeling daring, try adding a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and some cinnamon for a Mexican chocolate taste.

And now for the recipe!

Basic Fudge Brownie Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter (no margarine or butter substitutes!)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other extract of your choice)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I recommend Hershey's Special Dark!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/2 to 3/4 cup any extra ingredients like nuts, fruits, etc
  • Optional: Additional spices or flavorings

Cooking directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
  3. In your mixing bowl, mix together the oil or butter, the brown sugar, and the vanilla (or other extracts)
  4. Beat in eggs.
  5. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and any optional dry spices in your second bowl
  6. A bit at a time, stir the dry mixture into the egg mixture until well blended. Do not overmix!
  7. Stir in optional nuts, chips or dried fruit
  8. Spread the batter evenly into the baking pan, using the spatula or .tablespoon to scrape all the batter out of the bowl
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie just barely begins to pull away from edges of pan
  10. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares, or if you're like me, pour the milk and dig in while they're hot!!

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