My mom talks about these being the first “from scratch” brownies she ever tasted. My dad’s grandmother made them for a visit with my parents when they were first together. I don’t remember much about my great-grandmother except that she had a claw foot tub in her bathroom and we have an adorable picture of her holding my sister as a baby, and my Grandma Kate and I are also in the picture – this reminds me that I would like to find it and perhaps use it in a picture college I am envisioning for the wall going up our stairway.
My mom and I made these brownies for my wedding, and they have been a staple in our baking repertoire for years. A version even made it on my HM dessert menu, buried under scoops of chicory coffee ice cream and gooey hot fudge. They are easy and delicious and when the “baking mood” strikes, they can be mixed and in the oven in less than 20 minutes. I love that this recipe comes from my great-grandmother, for even though my memories of her are slim, making these brownies brings me around to thinking of her, of my grandparents, of my dad, of family and love.
The original recipe calls for Crisco and walnuts, but as you see below, I used butter and pecans. I called my mom the other night to chat about our upcoming holiday weekend visit, I told her I made brownies. She replied, “So did I.” After a side by side comparison, butter makes for a perfectly flat-topped brownie, while the Crisco results yield a crackly top – at least that was our conclusion. There is not much difference in taste, although I think I am partial to butter. They benefit from cooling in the pan, then being wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight. Bring back to room temperature to enjoy a perfectly fudgey old-fashioned brownie.
Great Grandma’s Brownies
yield a 9 x 13 pan
6 squares of baking chocolate (or 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate of your choice)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. If using a microwave cook in 30 second intervals stirring between each one till melted, set aside to cool. Using an electric or hand mixer whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla till light in color and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes) Fold in cooled chocolate/butter mixture with a rubber spatula, then fold in flour and nuts.
Grease a 9×13 pan (I prefer metal) and line with a sheet of parchment so that it hangs over the edges. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minute intervals, checking and rotating the pan. They are done when a knife comes out with very faint streaks on it – not totally dry and clean. There shouldn’t be wet batter, but more like wet crumbs
* This recipe can be halved and cooked in and 8×8 pan as well.