In the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s must-read memoir, Eat Pray Love, Liz (aka Julia Roberts) introduces her Italian tutor to a new English word. Holding up a bottle of wine, she says, “Therapist.”
In the way that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow, I believe Americans have a thousand words for therapist. Wine is one.
Brownie is another. When you’re having one of those days, nothing is faster, easier or more satisfying to your beleaguered spirit than a brownie. Am I right?
And, in the way that there are a thousand words for therapist, there are (at least) a thousand recipes for brownies. We all have a favorite – or many favorites. I grew up making the one-bowl recipe on the back of the Baker’s chocolate box. In high school, when my friends and I suddenly found ourselves hungry (you remember how that can happen, right?), the Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie mix was the answer. Although, as I recall, the yield was somewhat less than indicated on the box due to excessive batter eating.
Today, there are several brownies I enjoy: I like a dark chocolate fudgy one straight from the fridge, I like a dense chewy one like the kind they sell at Zaro’s Bakery in Grand Central Station (the commuter’s best friend I always say), I like a fancy one like cream cheese swirl or salted caramel swirl. They’re all good. They all make me happy. (Despite an earlier post as to whether I actually like them or not. This is about “therapist” not about best treat ever.)
But they don’t all make me satisfied. Happy stomach, happy brain, sure. Satisfied heart, soothed soul? For that I need a no-fuss, traditional, cakey brownie. No bells or whistles, no fancy ingredients you might not have. Just the basics, whisked together in a single bowl and baked for 25 minutes.
It’s a cure for what ails you. (Or at least one of them.)
Soul Satisfying Brownies
Yield: 16 2-inch brownies
Note: I am tinkering with low cholesterol and gluten-free baking. This recipe reflects both. You can make it the “regular” way using whole eggs and unbleached flour.)
6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 c sugar
2/3 c brown sugar, packed (I used turbinado crystals for a cakier texture)
½ c Egg Beaters egg substitute (or two large eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
½ c Cup4Cup gluten free flour (or the same amount of regular flour)
¼ tsp salt
Butter an 8-inch square pan, lining the bottom and two sides with parchment leaving a 1-inch overhang. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe dish (I use a Pyrex measuring cup), and zap on low until melted. Check every 15 seconds and stir. Set aside.
Combine sugars in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add the Egg Beaters, in two additions, whisking after each. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt, whisking until combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25 minutes until edges just start to pull away.
Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan using parchment handles and cool on rack completely.