Monday, December 12, 2005

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

There were a few raised eyebrows in my office when I baked brownies for our Hamburg office. I had to remind my co-workers that I bake for the office Christmas party so they shouldn't feel slighted. In an effort to mollify them, I promised to make better brownies for them than I did for Hamburg.

I work in an IT department. My fellow employees come from many different countries and backgrounds. For the Christmas party each year, everyone is encouraged to bring a dish that is traditional in their country/culture/family and an ornament for the departmental Christmas tree. And their families too! The kids have a blast decorating the tree while the parents enjoy the incredible buffet. The Scottish Shortbread that I baked last year was a a big hit and I had been racking my brains trying to figure out how to equal or surpass it this year. Ultimate Chocolate Brownies were the perfect answer.

I only make these brownies when I have to bring a dish to an event. I don't particularly like them. I think it's the cocoa I find objectionable. And I don't care for the combination with the chocolate chips. About the only thing I like about this recipe is the frosting! Everyone else seems to like them, so I keep making them.

Here are two things you might want to do when you make these brownies. I've never actually tried this, but I've read in several places that if you want your brownies to come out of the pan looking as perfect as in photos, line the pan with aluminum foil. After they are baked, you lift the brownies out in the aluminum foil rather than trying to pry them out with a knife. The second idea is one I do use. The recipe calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips. I always buy the 12 oz package which yields 2 cups of chips. One cup I add to the batter as directed and the remaining chips I sprinkle on top of the frosting.

Picture Credit: For the party, I arranged the brownies on a holiday platter with doilies. They were very pretty but I was in such a rush that I forgot to take pictures so you will have to settle for a photo I stole from the Hershey's website. My brownies didn't look this perfect, but my presentation was better! Further Note: Apparently Blogger didn't like the picture either and is refusing to allow me to post it. Please use your imagination instead.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper.

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
(Source: Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection)
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter or magarine, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan or two 8-inch square pans.
Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost with One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting. Cut into squares. About 36 brownies.
One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.
Recycle: vanilla extract bottle
Compost: eggshells

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