Rocking my world

I’m a little under the weather. I can tell because I didn’t want coffee this morning and the only times I don’t want coffee are when I’m sick or pregnant … and I’m not pregnant. I’m not even really that sick—I just have an itchy throat, an itty-bitty headache, and extra sensitive eardrums. (Why, oh why, have all my children been gifted with such hearty sets of lungs? We’re a family of noisy windbags—there’s no two ways about it.)

I’m the first to acknowledge that I’m a pansy when it comes to illness. No, that’s not true—Mr. Handsome is the first to point it out. But I have to agree with him; I simply can not cope with even a touch of illness. I don’t understand how some people are able to function when they have fevers. Mr. Handsome is one of those people. He may shiver and shake all night long, but come morning, up he pops, ready to go to work. It’s a mystery.

(Lest anyone think that I’m a complete wimp, let me remind you that I pushed a seven-pounder and two nine-plus-pounders out of my nether regions [the other seven-pounder was evacuated via the sunroof], and I did not have medication and I did not cry. I yelled and swore and whimpered, but I did not cry.)

Despite passing up my coffee this morning, I was not sick enough to stay home from church. We drove the snowy eleven miles into town and, like we do every Sunday, we marched up front, staked out our chairs, and then Mr. Handsome and I proceeded to juggle toys, kids, attitudes, and hymnals (though I didn’t actually sing, myself) in full view of the brethren and sistern. And now this afternoon, after an Ibuprofen and a nourishing bowl of beans and rice, I feel well enough to drink coffee.

And eat a couple brownies.

I know, I know. Sugar weakens the immune system so it’s stupid to eat sweet stuff when you feel blah, but I do it anyway. It’s foolish maybe, but it’s also delicious.

These brownies are astonishingly good—rich, chewy-moist, and so dark they are almost black. This is astonishing because of this one little fact: they are made with cocoa powder, nearly a whole cup of it, instead of the standard bar chocolate. I’ve always thought that cocoa is somehow rather inferior to the bar version, that goodies baked with cocoa will be dry and crumbly-powdery like the cocoa itself, but—oh hark!—I think that no longer. My anti-cocoa-in-brownie world has been rocked, and it’s been a most glorious experience.

These are brownies to call home about, so I did. My mother couldn’t even wait twenty-four hours for me to post the recipe, so I recited it to her over the phone while she wrote it all down. She didn’t quite believe that I could remember the exact recipe without looking and kept asking me to repeat things and saying Now are you SURE you got that right? and How can you REMEMBER this without looking? and Just go look up the recipe and THEN tell me, but I held my ground (in the bathroom where I was hiding from the rest of the family). I gave it to her straight. And now I’ll give it to you, too.

Rock-My-World Cocoa Brownies
From Deb at Smitten Kitchen

I’m wondering if I could make the recipe with an even cup of cocoa. I may try that next time, but if you beat me to it, report back here, okay?

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup flour

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat back to low and add the sugar, salt, and cocoa and stir to combine, cook for a minute, stirring steadily, and then remove the pan from the burner. Cool slightly and then stir in the vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and stir to incorporate. Beat it a little longer with the wooden spoon, forty strokes or so (it’s a stiff batter so this is no easy task), and then pour the batter into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

Bake the brownies at 325 degrees for 25-35 minutes—the top should be set, but a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out a little wet. Cool, cut, and eat. (The cooling part is optional.)

About one year ago: nothing, so I’ll leave you with some other brownie recipes. Brownies (my standby), Coconut Brownies (fancy-shmancy), and Chocolate Truffle Cake (kind of a brownie, kind of a cake).


  • Anonymous

    Oh my goodness, I have had this recipe on my 'must-make' list for awhile….I finally got around to it today and used 10 OUNCES of butter. I am horrified! It did seem like an awful lot, and I kept thinking, what an odd way to measure butter – in ounces?! But I just kept chugging along. After 25 minutes in the oven they looked rather strange. Well, another 5 didn't help. So I took another look at your post. OOPS. They do smell delicious. I'm so bummed.

  • iambrenna

    You should know these brownies are the first thing I've used the oven for in the last month of 100+F weather.

    I first saw them on Smitten Kitchen's site many moons ago and did them once with the water bath which was ridiculously time-consuming for "easy" brownies. I was thrilled when you posted and suggested doing away with that step.

    We make them so often even my bestlove has the recipe memorized. That means it's in his top three recipes of all time!

  • Anonymous

    I tried the full cup of cocoa, and the brownies are delicious. They were a perfect snowed-in treat.

    I found out about your blog through your Aunt Valeri. We go to the same church, and I try to glean as much food wisdom from her as I can. It must run in your family.

  • Anonymous

    These brownies contain enough chocolate to cause a dog to sicken and expire. Consuming one of my litte hefties this morning, I almost felt like I was taking medicine. I'm not sure how deep into hedonism one can safely descend.


  • Tori

    I've added the necessary ingredients to my grocery order for tomorrow. This is going to be VERY scientific. I think I'll even make a box of Betty Crocker to be sure.

  • Tori

    How did you know brownies were next on my list? Are you sure you're not pregnant? 😉

    There is a (typically) fussy Cook's Illustrated recipe this month that promises brownies like out of the box. I may just be forced to bake both recipes for the sake of comparison. I have a self-imposed journalistic obligation.

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    I've scratched this recipe down, too, and can't wait to make them. I've always made my brownies with cocoa because that's what I have on hand- they've always been good. Hers look divine. Glad to hear there as good as Deb says they are!:-)

    Get better soon, ya hear?!

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