Brownies are one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I like them so much that occasionally I don't have a box of brownie mix in my pantry because I use it up too fast. That lead me to thinking that the mix cannot be all that difficult to replicate with ingredients that I already have in my pantry. If I can recreate things with pantry staples, I'd much rather do that than to have one extra box in my pantry (which anyone who's been to my house can attest is rather full already!). The recipe below uses cocoa, which is a cheaper alternative to baking chocolate. I always add extra chocolate chips to my brownies, because I don't think you can go wrong with extra chocolate. If you feel like this might be going overboard, by all means, leave them out.
This recipe is a great "base" recipe that you could easily doctor up to your own preferences. Most of the ingredient amounts below are doubled from typical brownie recipes, because I found that I kept doubling the recipes to fit my 9x13 pan. If you're making brownies in an 8x8 pan or a 9x9 pan, you could halve the recipe. The amounts listed below will make a super-thick, fudgy brownie that will probably take another 5-10 minutes to cook if you use the smaller pan. If you want to get creative, top the brownies with mint frosting and a chocolate coating, as in my sister's famous (or shall we say, infamous) Creme de Menthe Brownies. Or you could sustitute the chocolate chips for peanut butter chips and top the brownies with peanut butter frosting.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (regular cocoa, or mix half regular with half dark chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (use more or less, depending upon your preference)
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs (or 1 c. egg substitute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 9x13-inch baking pan with butter, or spray it with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil, vanilla, and eggs, stirring just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix the batter! Mixing it too much will make for a cakier brownie, while undermixing will keep your brownies fudgy and dense. Pour the batter into the prepped pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. One trick for determining their "done-ness" is to pick up the pan and tilt it. If the center starts oozing one way or the other, they're not quite done. If it doesn't ooze, pull them out! (You could always use the toothpick method, too...a toothpick inserted into the center should come out with little crumbs on it, but no gooey batter. Although, I never have toothpicks around to utilize this method; hence, the tilt and ooze method evolved.) Let the brownies cool before cutting them into squares (Brownies in the center, below. The other cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip on the right and snickerdoodle chip on the left.).