best ever brownies

best ever brownies | the merry gourmet

I am off work today, on a scheduled day off that I planned for as a reward for working the last 18 days straight. I’ve already checked my work email three times, and I’ve spent 15 minutes logged in to the hospital’s electronic medical record to check on some of my patients. Have I mentioned that I’m terrible at days off?

I also woke up sick, of course. My throat is filled with shards of glass, and coughing makes me wince. My joints ache and my brain feels foggy. When I sneeze, the cats startle and dash out of the room.

I’m medicated now, with Sudafed and ibuprofen, and I’ve had a cup of coffee and a bowl of steel cut oats. I think I’ll be able to face the day, once the full effect of the medications kick in.

My daughter forgot her lunch box at home. Again. She’s always forgetting something, and my husband and I are tired of having to bring whatever she’s left at home – her lunch, the safety patrol belt, her backpack even. Today, I’m taking a stand. I will not bring her lunch box to her, even though I could.

It’s sad for her, really, because she’s going to miss out on the individually wrapped Best Ever Brownie that is nestled in the box, beside the ham sandwich and the strawberry GoGurt.

I baked two batches of these brownies last weekend. I intended to make just one, but these brownies were heavenly, and one pan simply wasn’t enough. I froze a good number of brownies, wrapped individually for future lunchbox use. I took most of a batch to work, to reward my team of students and residents for their hard work over the past two weeks. The rest were fought over by my kids and shared with play-date friends. My husband may have had one or two.

I only had a fraction of one, just enough of a taste to know that I would name them the Best Ever Brownies. They are deserving of that title.

So my daughter’s lunch will remain home with me today. Maybe she’ll learn to be responsible, and to keep track of things that are important to her.

And maybe I’ll be having a brownie for lunch today.

best ever brownies | the merry gourmet

Yield: 24 2-inch brownies

Best Ever Brownies

My favorite brownie is rich and chewy in the center, with no nuts to tarnish the chocolate flavor. These brownies bake up in just 40 minutes and completely fit my criteria for a perfect brownie. The name may be presumptuous, but these really are my family’s Best Ever Brownies.

Hint: Use excellent chocolate when baking these. I’ve used both Ghirardelli and Scharffen Berger, with good results.


2 sticks (1 cup; 226 grams) unsalted butter
8 ounces (227 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cup (157 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-3/4 cup (350 grams) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla


Heat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle position. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper to make a sling, with the sides of the paper overhanging the pan sides. Butter the parchment.

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder; whisk until blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Pour in melted chocolate and whisk until well combined. Stir in flour mixture. Transfer batter to the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until top of brownies is shiny and set and the sides have begun to pull away slightly. Cool brownies in the pan on a rack until room temperature, then lift out the parchment onto a cutting board. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares.

Note: Store brownies in an airtight container, between sheets of wax paper or parchment, for two to three days. Or, wrap individual brownies in plastic wrap, place wrapped brownies in a freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Adapted from this recipe from Gourmet, October 2003.

    Pin It

12 Responses to “on the first father’s day, and a recipe: black-bottom peanut butter pie”

  1. 1
    Marly — June 19, 2014 @ 10:13 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. My dad died a couple of years ago and it is very hard. It’s hard to know he won’t be calling again, stopping by to say hello. It does get easier at times, but then there are other times when it’s right back with you again. My thoughts are with you.

  2. 2
    Gail — June 19, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    The first Fathers’ Day is tough, that’s for sure.
    It will be melancholy for a while, I’m afraid.
    Celebrate Sam; revel in the kids celebraing their dad.


  3. 3
    Mimi — June 19, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    Sounds like your husband had a wonderful Father’s Day! I never had a father, or a decent father, so those dad-daughter photos just piss me off, but if you atually had a father you liked, I can certainly understand the sadness. I’m really sorry for both of your losses. You just can’t pick your parents, can you?!!! It makes me sad when I read something like this, because my mother is the meanest person alive and she’s 85 and still kicking! But that pie looks absolutely perfect and delicious!!! sorry for my rambling!

  4. 4
    Beth @ The First Year — June 19, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    It sounds like your travels will be a vacation to remember! As for the pie, I would dig in immediately!

  5. 5
    Liren — June 19, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    Oh, it will be good to get away. Especially without the technology, so I understand your inner cheers. Your father’s day was my mother’s day, and these holidays are just so hard, aren’t they? It’s so easy to feel envy and grief when social media is full of images we wish we still had. I send you hugs and hope you and the family enjoy every bit of your trip. I have a feeling it will be perfect 🙂

  6. 6

    Aw MJ, my heart went out to both you and Sam this Fathers’ Day. Sam is an amazing dad, for sure and it sounds like he had the day he deserves 🙂 I can’t wait to read more about your adventures (just stay away from those bears!)

  7. 7
    Martha @ A Family Feast — June 19, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My father passed over 20 years ago (and my mother just 2 years ago) – and it’s just plain hard not to have your parents around, especially at all of the different holidays. The first year is definitely the most difficult! But – I did also want to tell you that your pie looks absolutely fantastic! I make a similar peanut butter pie recipe – but love the black bottom of yours! I am going to try your version the next time!

  8. 8
    Joelen Tan — June 19, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

    This is a wonderful dessert choice to celebrate, albeit bittersweetly. Your upcoming vacation sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading all about it soon!

  9. 9
    dina — June 19, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

    it looks sooo good!

  10. 10
    Kathryn — June 20, 2014 @ 6:07 am

    Sending you lots and lots of love. We had a similar Mother’s Day last year as both my grandmothers had died in the previous year – it was so hard for both my parents and the day was tinged with such sadness.

  11. 11
    Di — June 24, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    The first year after a loved one’s passing is the most difficult because of the all those “firsts” without them. Sounds like you and your husband handled it in a healthy way …. putting one foot infront the other when your heart isn’t in it is not easy. I am happy to read your posts again. I missed them. Enjoy your family time off the grid.

  12. 12
    Liesl — June 27, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    I so know how you feel. I wrote a month or so ago, having just lost my dad in February. I completely understand the “grief surprising you in it’s ferocity.” That is such a good way to state what I am feeling. Even though I knew it would be extremely hard to lose him, I just didn’t know how it would feel.
    Sending love your way.

Leave a Comment