As humans we are reluctant to change. I am particularly so. I require sameness. I have been known to react poorly to banal, but positive, changes like a refrigerator upgrade or new towels. Alterations to the usual Thanksgiving sweet potato recipe can throw me into a tailspin. Returning home for the holidays, however, all but guarantees a rush of familiar things: blazing fires; dogs; a busy kitchen and Mila.
She is almost always sitting at the kitchen table peeling or chopping something when we arrive and her smile greets you from across the room. Mila has been taking care of our family in one capacity or another for over 30 years. It is she who remembers your favorite meal and prepares it for your arrival; she, who offers unsolicited advice you actually want to hear; and she, whose compliments are truly appreciated as they are earnest and, while heartfelt, infrequent.
This year, however, there was to be no Mila. For the first time in years, she has returned home to the Philippines for Christmas. She left us with a well-stocked freezer but obviously food alone could not prepare us for her absence. As the family gathered in the kitchen to put together Christmas dinner, the words "Where is Mila?" were uttered surprisingly frequently. We hunkered down and pulled together a surprisingly good meal. I know she would be proud.
Arriving home this time, even without Mila, everything seemed to be roughly in order. The cookie jar was noticeably absent but I could live with that. Then somehow it magically reappeared and hopefully I, of course, checked inside: nothing. Our cookie jar is traditionally filled with brownies announcing the arrival of my brother Anthony but has devolved into more of the norm as each member of the family declared them their favorite food. In only seemed correct to restore order and make some brownies.
A quick search of the internet for “best chocolate brownies” provided this recipe from sally’s baking addiction. I also suggest her blog post for some interesting brownie back story. Needless to say, no one was disappointed. Happy Holidays to all. We miss you Mila!
You will need the following:
- 1/2 cup (115g) salted butter*
- 8 ounces (228g) coarsely chopped quality semi-sweet chocolate*
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (80g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons (11g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Once done allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x9 inch square baking pan* with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
Bake for roughly 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done.