Scarlet’s Brownies, Finally!
When most people go abroad they usually like to visit the normal tourist attractions. You know, famous city landmarks, museums, shopping, shopping, SHOPPING!!!! Not me. Well, except for the shopping part, but not the kind of shopping you think. I love supermarkets. In New York, Zabar’s is my shrine. No kidding. With few exceptions, I have to go and spend time in Zabar’s every time I visit New York. It drives my kids crazy. They would rather spend hours and hours in Macy’s or some giant mall. I would rather have root canal than do that.
I love visiting supermarkets, and even more, love buying things that we don’t have back home. I once pulled up to the El Al security check at Kennedy airport with one whole suitcase with nothing in it but chocolate and Slim Fast products. And horrors of horrors, it looked weird on the x-ray machine so they opened it. The ex-elite combat unit security clerks looked at my stash and asked, “What are you going to do, first eat the all the chocolate and then use the Slim Fast?” Embarrassingly, yes!
When I was dating Ju-boy he told me he was going to visit his daughter Scarlet (as in the color, not O’Hara) on her air force base down south. He mentioned that the last time he went down there for Parents’ Day he unknowingly came empty handed, while all around him families were hauling out what could pass for a full, six course Thanksgiving dinner. But this time, he was dating a Nigella Lawson wannabe, and I was happy to suck up impress and sent along some brownies. Instead of nuts or chocolate chips, I tossed in a bag of some of my self-imported Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. Ju-boy proudly handed over the brownies to daughter Scarlet, who put them away in her room to save for later. But, alas (this should be read with your right forearm over your forehead in the alas position), Scarlet never got to taste those brownies. By the time she said goodbye to Daddy and had returned to her room the brownies had been decimated by her roommates.
Fast-forward five years, and Scarlet has been a civilian for quite a while now. She lives on a kibbutz about an hour’s drive from here and we’re going to visit her this evening. While I was rearranging my baking drawer (doesn’t everyone have a baking drawer?) I found my very last bag of Reese’s chips. And guess what’s now cooling before I cut it up into gooey, chocolately squares?
Before posting the recipe please let me get up on my soapbox and talk to you about vanilla. I make my own vanilla. How la-di-da does that sound? But it is sooooo much better than the fake stuff they sell, and so much cheaper than the real stuff they sell. I got my recipe from one of my foodie friends, Ruth. Ruth was kind enough to share her recipe with me, and gave permission for me to spread the word to the masses (that would be you). So check out Ruth’s Homemade Vanilla Extract on Recipezaar, you can thank me (and Ruth) later.
Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup margarine
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (I just pour out a glug of vanilla)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 in F-speak).
- Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the margarine and then stir in the cocoa.
- Mix in the sugar and the vanilla.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Don’t stir too much, just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Whatever you do, don’t use an electric mixer for this part, you want gooey brownies, not airy brownies.
- Add the peanut butter chips and stir again.
- Pour/scrape the batter into the parchment-line pan. Make sure to get as much as you can in there. As my mother used to say, you could leave a whole bite behind!
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- You should let these brownies cool completely before cutting into squares. Ideally, you should place the cooled brownies in the freezer, and then cut the frozen brownies into perfect squares.
One note about parchment paper: the person who invented parchment paper deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for cooking. You don’t need to grease the pan, and even better, after you’ve frozen the brownies you just take the paper by the edges (not delicately, grab those edges) and lift the whole thing out of the pan. You barely have to clean the pan, a boon to those of us who love to cook but hate the clean up.
Hopefully this time Scarlet will have these babies all to herself. She does have a roommate, Sasquatch (not because he’s big and hairy, because he’s got HUGE feet). Maybe she’ll let him have a bite…