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Friday, February 25, 2011

Random Food Fridays - Brownie Points

While I have never had a career in food, food has seemed to help my career. A few years ago, I actually had a performance review that included a comment on a coffee cake I brought to work. Through both my retail and public service careers, brownies have been the most requested item. The last time I brought brownies to work, there were half-joking accusations of hoarding and threats of purse searches!

The district manager of my retail store was a chocoholic. (Probably still is.) When he first ate my brownies, there was a brief discussion of my marital status. (Very Married!) He appreciated my brownies so much that I made them for him on each of his quarterly visits. In those days, I made brownies from the directions on the box of Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate. A few years ago, they changed their recipe. Strangely, they reduced the amount of sugar and ground chocolate. Fortunately, I had copied the original recipe, and I've stuck with that. These are splendid and just this side of candy. This was the perfect recipe for my little store, with 6-8 employees.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies (Susan Style)
4 eggs
2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup melted butter
2 cup Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Place in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Don't let melted chocolate chips fool you into thinking they are not done.) Cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 24.


When I started working at my current job, I was suddenly working in a building that housed from 30 to 150 staff. Brownies became a mass production proposition. During one holiday season a couple years ago, I noticed this Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate brownie mix at Costco. I decided to give it a try and see how it compared to my old recipe. This box contains 6 pouches. Each pouch makes one 8 X 8 inch pan. Two pouches make one 9 X 13 inch pan. I did alter the recipe and these little secrets are what I share when people ask me for the recipe. All I do is follow the package, but I use melted butter instead of oil; I use strong espresso in place of the water; I add 1 tsp. vanilla for each pouch of mix. That is all. For almost no effort, these are absolutely scrumptious. These are the hit of any pot luck or bake sale. The espresso gives them a depth of flavor with no overt coffee flavor.

Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies (Susan Style)
2 pouches of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie mix
2 eggs
2/3 cups water
2 heaping tsp. Medaglia d'Oro instant espresso powder
2/3 cups melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the brownie mix into a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle. Dissolve the instant espresso powder in the water. Add all ingredients, except the nuts, into the well and stir to combine. Stir in the nuts. Place in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Don't let melted chocolate chips fool you into thinking they are not done.) Cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 24.

Note: When I bake two pans in my convection oven, the baking time usually increases to 50-55 minutes.

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