Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brownies: a recipe for making friends

I have turned quite a few of our tico friends into brownie fiends.
Once they have experienced brownies, they are shameless hint droppers along the lines of "Why don't you bring give me some brownies?" It makes me feel very appreciated. Ticos do very little baking and brownies aren't part of their tradition although they all seem willing to change that. I've given brownies as gifts to various workers, taxi drivers, or people who have done me a kindness and they are always very well received.
   Baking chocolate in bars are not available here in Santa Elena. (I've seen it elsewhere in Costa Rica.) Luckily, cocoa is usually available. So I started with the recipe on the box of Hersey's Baking Chocolate and modified it so it uses cocoa and extra butter. And after a few years of tweaking and taste tests, I came up with my recipe.
Our friend Lucas recently asked me for my recipe and since I believe he has never baked anything in his life (although he cooks), I suggested he come over for a lesson. It was great fun making the brownies together. Here is Lucas mixing up the batter.

Russ always helps me by cutting the brownies.

My favorite way to eat a brownie is hot with a dab of ice cream, but eating one along the trail while birdwatching is good too. And some friends like to gobble them while still frozen. (Keeping them in the freezer prevents ants getting at them.)
Here is my recipe. Enjoy.

Carolina's brownies
Melt 2 sticks of butter. Turn off the fire and mix in 2 cups of sugar. Then add 3 eggs and 2 tsp. of vanilla.

In another bowl, mix 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Stir really well to get rid of any lumps in the cocoa and to make sure the baking powder is mixed in.

Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients. If desired, add 1 cup chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts. You can also add 1/2-3/4 cups of unsweetened coconut along with the nuts.

Grease the pan with a lot of butter—2 tsp. or so. Bake at 350F (180C) until the edges of the brownies have pulled away from the pan and the middle looks shiny and has some resistance to your finger gently pressing on it. Don't overbake—these are fudgey brownies.  Baking time depends on the size of the pan. I have a pan that is 9" X 12"(24cmX29.5cm) but today we used Lucas's pan that was 7.5" X 12" (19.5cm X 30cm) and it worked great. Baking time is between 25 and 35 minutes.
Hint: we put our pan of brownies in the freezer for a while before we cut them so they aren't as crumbly. After cutting we wrap them in twos in plastic wrap so they are ready for us to take along on a hike or to give to people.

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