Going in to the holiday season, I loaded up on baking materials. I raided those grocery aisles, picking up any ingredient that I thought I’d use. It probably would’ve made more sense to assemble a menu first, and picked out what recipes I would be suing, but what can I say? I am one spontaneous girl and I fly by the seat of my pants.
The result? My cupboards were overloaded with STUFF. Literally, I couldn’t close some doors! And with my fridge flooded with goodies, I was looking to get rid of some stuff. So I spent all day yesterday packing up my baked goods (banana cake, peppermint bark cookies, vanilla crescents, chocolate coffee cake, and chocolate biscotti) and sent them off on their way to be devoured by the respective parties. But then I realized that I still had to bake for my coworkers. Ugh! I thought I was home free!
But never fear, brownies are here! Or should I say, Classic M&M brownies, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book. I bought the holiday mix of M&M’s thinking that I’d use them in some big monster cookies, but I never got around to making them. I also had a Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar and decided that these brownies could save my day.
I had to adapt this brownie recipe just a bit since I was running low on supplies. I didn’t have any unsweetened chocolate, so I subbed in some bittersweet chocolate chips. I also didn’t have any walnuts, but I figured the M&M’s would add the crunchy texture that the walnuts would’ve added. I also left the espresso powder out since some of my coworkers hate anything coffee related. (Weirdos, I know).
Tips when handling these brownies: they will be very dense and moist, so make sure they are cooled when cutting them. I got too antsy and rushed to cut them, and ended up with some very crumbly squares. Also, the M&M’s make it hard to cut too, so just be gentle and patient. These aren’t meant to be picture perfect, just extra tasty.
The best part about brownies is that they can be ridiculously simple to make. This recipe attests to that. Just a little melted chocolate, throw in some sugar & flour, and 30 minutes later, heaven emerges. So if you are in a time pinch and only have a select amount of baking materials, I think this recipe could be your lifesaver. (My substitutions are in italics.)
But be warned, as the brownies bake up, you will be tempted to devour the brownies because they will smell delicious. The chocolatey aroma might be too tempting for you, as it drifts throughout your kitchen. So either bake some for yourself or screw giving them away as gifts…
Classic Brownies with M&M’s
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:From my home to yours
- 5 tablespoons of butter, cut up into 5 pieces
- 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped (I used bittersweet chocolate instead)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup walnuts chopped (optional)
- 1 and 1/2 cups M&M’s (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil, and butter the foil.
2. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolates and stir occassionally until the ingredients are just melted- you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
3. With a whisk, stir in the sugar. Don’t be concerned when your smooth mixture turns grainy. One by one, whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and give the ingredients a vigorous whisking before gently stirring in the espresso, if you are using it. Add in the flour & salt; stir only until incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the chopped walnuts, if you are using them. (Instead, I threw in my 1 and 1/2 cups of M&M’s).
4. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. (I topped the mixture with extra M&M’s).
5. Bake the brownies for 30 to 33 minutes or until the top is dull and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temperature. When the brownies are completely cool, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each a scant 2 inches on a side.