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Fudge Brownies

Yield:36 brownies
I'm a big brownie fan.  If I could have only one cookie for the rest of my life, brownies would be it.  This recipe is one that I've been making and tweaking to my taste for about twenty years (I started when I was in the womb of course).  I vary it a little bit each time I make it, but the base recipe stays the same.  It's important to note that room temperature eggs do make the brownies taller and lighter and the brownies will be as good as the quality of the butter, chocolate, and vanilla that you use, so splurge on the good stuff.  My favorite baking chocolate is made by Scharffen Berger .

4 ounces Scharffen Berger unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted sweet cream butter
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. 

2. In the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave on low power), melt the chocolate and butter together over hot (not boiling) water.  Remove top of double boiler and set melted ingredients aside to cool while you continue. 

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light with a hand mixer.  Beat in sugar and vanilla.  Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture.  Gently stir in the the flour, salt, and chocolate chips. 

4. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan (or line pan with foil and grease that for easy removal).  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the brownies are just barely set.  Do not over-bake! 

5. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  While still slightly warm, cut into squares.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Note: It's important to use room temperature eggs in this recipe as there's no other leavening. If you forgot to get the eggs out ahead of time, set them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 5 minutes before using them.

Variations:
I'm always changing up this recipe to suit my tastes.  Sometimes I add mint chips to the batter and a little peppermint flavoring.  Orange oil is also good.  Andes mints or chocolate chips melted on top of the warm brownies and then spread like frosting are also tasty.  For fun, I sometimes use cookie cutters to cut out the brownies into shapes instead of cutting them into squares.  If you do this, you have to nibble on the "bones" as you work!