My shameful confession

I’m about to tell you something shocking.

I made brownies from a box. 

I’m not sure you understand how unusual this is.

I grew up in a house where everything was made from scratch. My mom has been known to make homemade green bean casserole, down to her own crispy onion things (which is good, but tastes nothing like the mushy goodness of Green Bean Casserole). I’ve known how to make my own brownies for as long as I can remember. And cookies. And cakes. I like to cook, but I’ve always loved baking. I don’t do anything fancy and presentation isn’t my strength, but I can make a kick-ass homemade brownie.  I don’t know if people are intimidated by the baking process or what. But the recipe I love most is ridiculously simple and the results are chewy, fudgy goodness. I’ll share at the end.

So why did I make brownies from a box?


I was craving something dessert-like, but the house was devoid of most food, since I was getting ready for a vacation and I’d been eating things down. And I didn’t have some of the fundamental ingredients. But what I did have was a box of brownies. I’m not sure why. It’s possible I had a coupon. Regardless, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I had the quarter cup of water, quarter cup of oil and egg required, so brownies from a box it was.

I cannot deny that it’s faster and easier to stir three things into a heap of powder than it is to melt some butter and chocolate and stir in some sugar and flour. But the results are just not the same. It would suffice for that night. But the likelihood that I would actually finish the imposter brownies before they went stale (or I left for vacation) were pretty slim, because they’re just not that good – and ps, I didn’t. Neither did my dad, who inherited them a couple of days later when I left town. What can I say, we’re brownie snobs in my family. `:-)

The inferior box brownie


If you’ve never made your own brownies before, try this recipe. I SWEAR you can’t screw it up, and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Best Gooey Brownies, from the Junior League Centennial Cookbook

1 12-oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 pound (2-1/4 cups) packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (I use less)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. (If using a glass pan, bake at 325 degrees.)

In a large (LARGE) saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter while stirring slowly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Melt the remaining 1/2 pound of butter, stir in the sugar, and add to the chocolate mixture. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, flour, and salt.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Brownies will still be gooey in center. And delicious.


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