Grandma Brownies

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This is one of the few recipes that I know by heart. At one point in my childhood, the recipe card was taped to the inside of a cabinet we made it so often. I think we took it down because we were all gaining weight (a 9×13 pan routinely lasts less than 12 hours in the house).

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It’s also the recipe I think I’ve made the most times. I have vivid childhood memories of my brother and I begging my dad to make them with us. If he agreed (he mostly did, he likes these brownies A LOT), next was the mad dash to the cupboard to see if we had the coveted ingredient–a bar of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate–and there was usually about a 40% chance that we were in luck. The other 60% was dark, dark times.

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In my mind, there are really only two types of brownies. You have your cake-y bars with a slightly drier texture which are often accompanied by frosting, and then you have your dense, fudge-y, crackly top versions and this recipe definitely falls into the latter camp. Personally, I slightly prefer the fudge-y versions but, really, a brownie is a brownie is a brownie and give me all of them please.

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Once, someone I made them for described them as “grandma brownies” and I have to admit, at first, I was a little offended. That made them sound plain and… old. Then I realized that’s probably the best compliment I could have gotten. They aren’t trendy or fussy and that’s what I love about them. They’re a workhorse of a brownie that never fails to please or comfort. A true classic.

Brownies

  • 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2/3 cup shortening*
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 pan and dust with cocoa powder. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and crisco together on low heat until melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar, eggs and vanilla until the mixture is pale yellow (a minute or two). In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, pour chocolate mixture into the mixing bowl until combined. Add in dry ingredients and fold in chopped nuts. Bake 30-35 minutes.

*I sometimes use 1/3 cup crisco and 1/3 cup butter. You can also substitute all of the crisco for butter if you prefer it. The butter gives a slightly richer flavor, but I think I still prefer the original recipe the best.

 

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