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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Bernice's Easy Brownies


These brownies harken back to my childhood, although I didn't think I was a child at that time.  I was an employed teenager, babysitting 3 adorable little kids for the summer. Their mom, Bernice was re-entering the job market and asked me if I'd be interested babysitting for the summer.  Oh, was I ever interested!  The money wasn't too bad--I think it was something like $20 a week, just enough to make me an independent working woman.  The four of us, Greg, Jackie, Jennifer and I, spend a lovely summer together playing outside, reading, traipsing off to the library or park, making crafts and listening to the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan on the dining room stereo.  Even today if I hear "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" or "Three Little Maids From School Are We" I immediately think of that year with the Morgans.

When school started in September I continued babysitting.  The children would meet me at my high school and we'd walk the five blocks to the bus stop where we would embark on a hectic 30 minute bus ride home.  At that time, children who lived in the city were not eligible to ride on a school bus.  They had to either walk, ride with a parent or take the city bus.  Greg, being the oldest, always wanted to sit at the back of the bus and usually managed to get into a lively conversation with a group of junior high kids.  The bus was crowded with just as many people standing as sitting and Jackie, Jennifer and I would spend the trip worrying whether Greg would remember to get off at our stop.  I can't tell you how many times we girls would get off the bus only to realize Greg wasn't with us.  We'd run afer the bus shouting and waving our arms trying to get the driver's attention but we never did.  But Greg always got off at the next stop and we'd wait while he come loping down the road to meet us.  All would be well and we'd go home, do homework and get ready for supper.  I would leave for home and we'd do it all again the next day.

Sometimes Bernice would ask me to do a little housework or cooking.  I didn't mind, but the vaccum cleaner used to scare the life out of me.  I was always sure I'd broken the thing but it usually just needed a new bag.   I was much happier if she asked me to cook or bake something.  

This is the brownie recipe Bernice would ask me to make for the family.  I've been making it ever since I copied it out of her book.  And no matter how many brownie recipes I try I always go back to this one. 

Easy Brownies
2 squares unsweetened chocolate*
⅓ cup margarine or butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped nuts or raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350ยบ  F.

Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment for easy removal.

Melt chocolate and butter together. Set aside to cool.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together, add melted chocolate and butter mixture. Do not overbeat.  

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together.  Blend flour mixture into chocolate mixture just until mixed.  I repeat: DO NOT OVERBEAT.  Stir in nuts or raisins if using.  

Bake 20-25 minutes or until just done or even a little underdone.  Do not over bake.  Cool and frost with chocolate icing.   

Makes 16 large brownies or cut them smaller if you wish.

As this only makes an 8- or 9-inch pan of brownies a full recipe of icing is not needed.  I don't have a chocolate icing recipe as I just wing it but I'll give you some idea of what I do. 

Chocolate Icing
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons milk or water
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted

Cream butter and sugar together adding milk or water to make a smooth mixture.  Add vanilla.  Mix in the melted chocolate.  If the icing is too thick add a few drops of milk.  If the icing is too thin add a little more icing sugar.  

*To replace the 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate melt 2 tablespoons butter and  6 tablespoons cocoa together. 


Lining the pan with parchment paper makes removal so much easier.

I like to melt chocolate in a double boiler.   I make one by placing a heat proof bowl over a pot containing hot water.  Don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl because chocolate will scorch if the temperature is too high.

Make sure you use unsweetened chocolate. 

The melted chocolate and butter.

Mix egg, sugar and vanilla together.

Combine melted chocolate/butter mixture with the egg mixture.  Don't overmix.  You don't want lot's of air in a brownie.

Blend the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture.  Use a gentle hand.

Ready for the oven.  I like to save a few nuts for the top.


Mmmmmm.  A layer of chocolate icing crowns each brownie. Don't you just want to reach in and take a bite? 

Read about Bernice Morgan and her contribution to Newfoundland and Labrador literature.


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