Classic Fudge Brownies

Again, I’ve been MIA for several days. Sadly I was without a kitchen this past week because a few months ago a radiator leak damaged part of the wood floors in my living room. After putting the repair off week after week, I finally relented and let them come to sand and re-varnish the whole living room. Unfortunately, my kitchen is part of the living room, and I was left without access to anything. I ate a lot of junk food in bed this week… Actually, now that I think about it, it was kind of just like college… Anyway, I was not feeling my best by Saturday when I was finally allowed to go back in. And the only part of this that is related to blogging is that I was in no mood to talk about the delicious things I couldn’t cook while living in my bedroom. So, right before this whole ordeal commenced, I made these amazing, delicious brownies.

I made them for my cousin’s birthday. The last time I had seen her she had mentioned that one of the best discoveries she made while living for a few years in the good old US was brownies. It’s no wonder to me that foreigners gain weight while visiting us… But, I have to agree that brownies are pretty darn good. So, when her birthday rolled around she had a little get together at her house and I decided to make these for her. Now, I want to explain (or make a disclaimer about) this “finished product” picture. I made the brownies in the morning before going out to lunch with my “Spanish Family” or, to those of you who know them, the Collia’s. It was a lot of lunch, and even more wine…at some point I came home and took this picture. I only noticed it was blurry, out of focus, and kind of unflattering to the brownies the next day when I scrolled through the recent pics on my camera.  But, trust me, they are the rich fudgey brownies you crave. Oh, and the rest of the pictures are good.

So, this recipe is only slightly more difficult than a boxed mix (which is the only type of brownie I had made until this point). Start with 3/4 cup of all purpose flour, 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, whisked together. Note from me: I couldn’t find “unsweetened” cocoa, so I just reduced the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

Then, in a double boiler (or if you don’t have one of these, like me, two saucepans of slightly different sizes, the larger one filled with water and the smaller set inside, floating on the water) melt 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Once it’s melted, add one cup of milk (any fat content works, I used fat-free). Whisk it over the boiling water until it’s nice and smooth.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk two large eggs. Then very slowly, add this chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Since the chocolate is hot, you want to do this a very little bit at a time so that the eggs don’t cook. So a little continuous stream is the way to go. Lastly, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Once that’s finished go back to the dry ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks to it and 1/2 cup of walnuts (if you want to). Then add the chocolate egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated.

Pour this into a baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts (if you chose to use them). Bake at 350 degrees for about 17-19 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs, but not molten brownie mix.

Let them cool completely before trying to cut them, difficult as it may be. I know I can’t prove the chewy goodness of these brownies with a picture of the finished product, but I will tell you that I took this entire pan to the party and when I left the plate was empty. So you know, just saying…you should try these.

Ingredient list:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks, separated half and half
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, separated 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

*Recipe courtesy of cookinglight.com (link)

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Growing up, Tuna Noodle Casserole was one of my absolute favorite dinners. So much so, that today it’s one of my top 3 favorite comfort foods (I don’t really know what the other two are, but you know what I mean, it’s way up there). My mom, like so many others, used to make this with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and a can of tuna, which probably made it one of her favorite dinners to make since nothing is faster or easier than boiling water and opening cans. I doubt she makes this anymore, but maybe she will after I introduce you all to “grown up” Tuna Noodle Casserole: it’s all the flavors your nostalgia crave, but made from scratch with fresh ingredients.

1. Start with a medium onion, finely chopped, and sauté it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Then turn up the heat a little bit and add about 10 ounces of sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté them for 2 more minutes until the mushrooms start to give off their liquids. Now, add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and continue sautéing until it evaporates. Then add 1/4 cup of Sherry and do the same. Once the liquids are evaporated, take it off the heat and set it aside.

Now, it’s time to work on the bechamel. In the meantime, put a large pot of water on to boil and cook 6 ounces of curly egg noodles (I used corkscrew pasta because I couldn’t find egg noodles today) according to the package.

2. For the bechamel, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium low heat. Once it’s melted, add 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and whisk it for about 5 minutes. This is a roux. Now, stream in 2 cups of chicken stock slowly, whisking until it’s all incorporated. Bring it to a boil and add 1 cup of milk. Simmer for 5 more minutes, whisking occasionally. The mixture should go from being a thick paste to a creamy sauce.

Now add the mushroom mixture, 6 ounces of flaked tuna (drained previously), and season with salt and pepper to taste (depending on the salt content of the chicken broth you’ll have to add more or less salt).

3. Once the noodles/pasta are cooked, drain them and put them in a large casserole pan. Pour the bechamel mixture on top and mix until evenly distributed. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and bread crumbs (about one cup of each) over the top and pop it into a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until the top is melted and starting to crisp and the sauce is bubbling.

So this may not be the super simple solution for dinner that the version we grew up with was, but this is incredibly flavorful and fresh ingredients always win over canned, especially since canned soups usually have outrageous levels of sodum… Anyway, this recipe was totally worth the extra time it took (and it really only took about an hour, half of which it’s just sitting in the oven). It tasted just like I remember and fully fulfilled the comfort food requirements.

Enjoy!

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Sherry
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 6 ounce can of tuna, drained and flaked
  • 6 ounces of dry curly egg noodles or corkscrew pasta
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

*Recipe adapted from epicurious.com (link)