It’s a brownie baking kinda night. I typically double (in a 15 x10 inch pan or 13×9) or triple the recipe and put them in a half-sheet pan (18×13) because these brownies are meant to be given away. They’re loaded with walnuts and well, chocolate. Don’t like nuts? Leave ’em out.
But, remember, walnuts are high in good-for-you fats that provide protection against a host of health problems. And dark chocolate, including bittersweet, has heart-healthy antioxidants and has been found to lower blood pressure. Never mind the butter and sugar. Surely the nuts and chocolate cancel out the butter-sugar concerns. I like to think these brownies are a health food.
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped (bittersweet chips work, too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and bittersweet chocolate. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir granulated sugar and brown sugar into chocolate mixture until smooth. Add eggs, beating with spoon until well combined.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Stir in nuts and milk chocolate pieces (batter will be thick). Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is set but still soft. (A toothpick inserted in center will come out slightly gooey.) Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 brownies.
Tip: The secret to fudgy brownies is to make sure you don’t overcook them. For easy clean up, line the baking pan with foil or baking
parchment, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil. When brownies are baked and cooled, lift out the foil along with the slab of brownies. Remove foil and cut brownies.
If you have a stash of fresh (or frozen) cranberries, here’s what you do. Pour a couple of cups of cranberries into the bottom of a buttered pie tin (or 9-inch round cake pan), sprinkle with sugar, add walnuts if you like and whip up a buttery cake batter to pour on top. Bake. Cool. Share.
I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s got history. And it’s everywhere. I made so many for Christmas gifts one year that I memorized the recipe. It’s that easy.
There’s a version called Nantucket Cranberry Pie in an old cookbook called “More Home Cooking” by the late Laurie Colwin (many credit her for the recipe). The King Arthur Flour site calls it Nantucket Cranberry Cake. Ina Garten does a variation with apples and brown sugar and sour cream and calls it Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake.
Next time I might add a little orange peel and cinnamon to the batter. I might even add a simple icing drizzle on top. (You know: confectioners sugar plus milk).
For Christmas gifts I bake them in foil pie plates and add a note that says they freeze easily (in case the recipient wants to save them for New Year’s eve!
They’re great served at brunch. Or as dessert with a bourbon-laced whipped cream. Or whenever the spirit moves you.
Easy Cranberry Cake Pie