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Brownies from Scratch Recipe
How to Make Brownies From Scratch
Making brownies from scratch doesn't take much longer than making them from a mix, and the results are better tasting and more satisfying. This recipe for an iced chocolate brownie is a family recipe from Indiana, called "Schoolhouse Brownies," one of my mother-in-law's famous recipes that we have since updated to use real butter. Some in the family are die-hard margarine lovers, and others will only eat real butter. The choice is yours, though the recipe is presented here using butter.
This recipe also uses unsweetened baking chocolate, found in the baking isle of your grocery store. If you haven't used unsweetened baking chocolate in a few years, you may be surprised to discover that some brands feature 1/2 oz chocolate squares, while other are wrapped as 1 oz squares. This recipe uses 1 oz chocolate squares, so be sure to check the size of your baking chocolate.
There is a trick to mixing the ingredients properly so that the brownies bake up nicely. This recipe uses eggs and baking powder to get the batter to rise and to create a soft, moist, slightly cakey crumb. Wet ingredients are mixed first, then dry ingredients added to the wet mixture. Nuts, if you choose to use them, are sprinkled on top of the batter after it is poured into the pan. This helps to ensure that the batter does not get overmixed.
I have found that it is the pan that is the key to great brownies. This recipe is designed for an 11"x17" jelly roll pan. We use a heavy weight commercial quality jelly roll pan made by WearEver. Other pans made by Wilton and NorPro are also good choices. If you want to use a more common 13"x9" pan, cut the recipe in half.
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Brownie Preparation and Cooking Time
- 3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, 1-oz size squares
- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
- 2 tablespoons margarine
- 1 square unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup hot water, approximate
Brownie Mixing and Baking Instructions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11"x17" jelly roll pan using cooking spray and set aside.
- On the stovetop over low heat, melt 3 squares of unsweetened chocolate with 1 1/2 sticks butter. Watch carefully and stir constantly until butter and chocolate melt, and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat 4 eggs with 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until sugar is mostly dissolved and well incorporated with eggs. Add melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix well.
- To the same bowl, add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix by hand just until ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to overbeat. Batter may have small lumps.
- Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan. Smooth and spread batter out to the corners of the pan, making sure that the batter is evenly distributed.
- If desired, sprinkle nuts over top of batter, press nuts into batter lightly with spatula. It's okay if they are not totally immersed, as the batter will rise and nuts will sink while baking.
- Bake in 350 degree oven on center rack for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in brownies comes out clean, indicating doneness.
- Remove pan from oven and set aside to cool. While brownies are cooling, prepare icing by heating about 1/3 cup water in a microwave safe cup for about 30 seconds or until hot. Set water aside. In pan, melt 2 tablespoons margarine together with 1 square unsweetened baking chocolate over low heat. Stir constantly until mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat. In small bowl, mix 2 cups sifted powdered sugar with chocolate mixture, adding hot water a tablespoon at a time until icing is just barely fluid enough to pour. (Alternatively, you can keep the icing thick and spread it.)
- While brownies are still warm, pour icing over top of brownies in pan. Spread icing evenly to corners using a spatula. Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting.
Melting Chocolate on the Stovetop
How to Melt Chocolate
If you're feeling brave, you can melt your baking chocolate along with the butter on the stovetop. This does work, in spite of what you may have read, provided that you're careful and diligent about stirring and watching the temperature so that it doesn't get too hot.
If you are not feeling brave, use the microwave. Place the butter and chocolate together in a microwave safe container and zap at 100% power at 20 second intervals, stirring between, just until butter is melted. Keep stirring until chocolate is also melted.