My mom passed away over ten years ago, but every Mother's Day we raise glasses of wine and indulge in one of Mom's favorite desserts. Last year I recreated her favorite biscotti. I mentioned then that Mom wasn't a stellar cook, not even a mediocre cook actually. In fact, I often joke that her Atkin's type dinners turned me into a vegetarian. But Mom did have this killer brownie recipe that I've kept for years.
The ingredients in this recipe are are nearly identical to this one posted by Molly Wizenberg a few years ago, but Molly's recipe listed twice as much sugar, eggs and butter for an 8-inch pan. Wow! Talk about rich, but Mom would have loved those brownies as long as they included her favorite walnuts.
I wanted to incorporate local butter, flour and eggs for this recipe. Oh of course I wanted local walnuts too, but I used my stash of walnuts that I'd gotten from Grouse Mountain Farm by tossing them in with oatmeal every morning. And I haven't been to the Portland market (the next closest place for local walnuts) so I was stuck buying nuts from the local natural food store.
This time of year, you really take a chance with fresh shelled walnuts. I say taste before you buy. Even though I purchased walnuts from a reputable natural foods store, I detected a rancid one when I got home. I hate that taste. It's disappointing and impossible to taste every nut before you bake, so I just hoped for the best with the rest of the nuts. I could have used hazelnuts, but the recipe just wouldn't have been the same.
Freshness of ingredients plays a major part in how anything tastes, whether you bake brownies or roast vegetables. Seek out local for this recipe and you'll see what I mean.
Mom really had the 40s glamour going on in this picture. It's hard to tell whether the color was added later for this photo, but when I was young, I thought Mom was totally glamourous when she and Dad went out. I loved her high heels and her coat with a fur collar. I never suspected that that soft fur collar on her dressy coat was really faux fur and that she'd made the coat herself. Faux fur--the only kind to have in my book.
I digress. Back to the brownies. The flour I used came from Nash's Organic Produce; the butter hails from Golden Glenn Creamery; and eggs were laid at River Farm.
I wanted to keep my curious Cooking Assistant out of harm's way since chocolate is toxic to dogs, but he's a stubborn lad and quietly insistent about whatever he wants. So I let him check out the eggs. It's easy to see he's impressed with the quality of local fresh ingredients.
Mom's Killer Brownies
(Makes an 8-inch square pan of brownies)
1/2 cup local butter
1 cup sugar
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (2 ounces)
2 local eggs
3/4 cup local whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Melt the chocolate in a microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir then heat for another 30 seconds if the chocolate isn't completely melted. Blend the melted chocolate with the butter and sugar.
3. Beat the eggs, then stir into the butter-sugar mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Blend in the walnuts last and stir until just blended.
4. Spread in the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack.
My persistent Cooking Assistant refused to be shut out of the kitchen for this show. I swear the boy can hear me pick up my camera as he slumbers deeply. I get everything ready to shoot a picture and there he is. I can't sneak any food by him; but rest assured he didn't get any chocolate, in fact he's actually looking at a carefully placed dog biscuit below the brownies.