October 7, 2014

FEWER THAN FIVE | Your Classic Brownie

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Walking into the Dickson 3-6 kitchen made me miss my family’s kitchen. The empty cabinets, blank fridge face and gleaming linoleum countertop were all waiting to be filled up by the 75 plus residents of this section. I slid the dish of rice and eggplant that my parents left with me into the bottom shelf of the fridge next to someone’s Yoplait yogurts and went on my merry way through the first month of school. Until yesterday, I had only stepped into the kitchen once to heat up my rice and eggplant dish, which made me long for the completeness of my kitchen back home.

But yesterday, in my first endeavor of cooking as a college student, I filled the Dickson 3-6 kitchen with the smell of melted butter and chocolate, swirled together in perfect simplicity, bringing my floor-mates and myself a little piece of home.

It all started with a very chaotic Wegmans trip. When you are cooking as a college student, ingredients and sizes must be evaluated carefully. Instead of purchasing a  dozen eggs, I opted for six. Instead of a pack of butter with four whole sticks, I bought four half sticks. Every element must have a purpose because, for various reasons, you can’t afford to leave a full bag of flour in a communal kitchen. And so, for these brownies I chose to forgo the superfluous ingredients – vanilla extract and salt – and am sticking with five ingredients for the sake of simplicity.

I walked out of Wegman’s with a canvas bag filled to the brim with chocolate and granola bars in one hand and a half-dozen egg carton precariously balanced in the other, expecting to see the TCAT. To my dismay, the bus stop was empty and the TCAT was no where to be found. I trekked almost a mile to a different TCAT line, hoping and praying to whoever was listening that my eggs would make it back to campus. Thankfully, they did.

The rest of the adventure would go the way you’d expect, the result being butter and milk chocolate melting together with little yellow swirls and beads of soft chocolate chips in a medium sized pot.

In the process of making these brownies, I did come across one other problem. The only baking utensil I could scrounge up from the Dickson kitchen was a slightly warped, flat baking sheet. I attempted to build a lip by lining the pan with some tinfoil and folding it over the edge, which worked for the most part. In general, I would not recommend this tactic because bits of batter leaked through a gap in the foil, and who am I to endorse the wasting of brownies? While the uneven baking sheet did cause some burning in one corner of the brownies, the rest were fluffy and fudgy on the inside with crumbly edges that quietly crunched upon eating.

I will warn you, though; this isn’t some fancy brownie that you’d get at a gourmet bakery or a funky brownie filled with pretzels and M&Ms. It can be made using one bowl, one rubber spatula and five ingredients. This is a basic brownie that will humble you with its power of nostalgia. This brownie will keep you coming back for more. It’s a classic.

Classic Brownie

Based on Smitten Kitchen’s My Favorite Brownie

Makes about 24 1-inch brownies


1 cup of butter plus a little extra to coat the baking sheet

6 oz (half a bag) of milk chocolate

2 1/3 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups flour

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line pan with foil, building up edges to make a lip if necessary, and butter the pan. Sprinkle with flour to avoid sticking.

Place the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium to high heat. Stir occasionally as they melt. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar. Crack eggs in a bowl and add in slowly, while stirring constantly. Add flour 1/3 cup at a time, stirring in between each addition. Pour batter into already buttered pain. Bake for 22-27 minutes.

Allow to cool before cutting into servable pieces.