When we were kids, back before the crust of the earth hardened, brownies were lunchbox fare. These days, there are probably few kids with brownies wrapped in wax paper in their lunch boxes. Shoot, few kids even have lunch boxes. We might be a tad out of date.
Still, we know people take brownies on the go: to church, work, the kids' soccer matches, or social gatherings. So in our on-going quest develop recipes for great chocolate recipes, we wanted to have one recipe that was a go-to for brownies that 1) travel well, 2) store well on the counter, 3) freeze well, and 4) are the exact median spot between dense fudgy brownies and airier cake ones.
As you can see, Bruce brought these to one of his knitting classes. Sure enough, they traveled well. And they stored well, too. At least, the one that was left over did!
Let's get to the recipe.
Begin by positioning the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheating the oven to 350F/175 C. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch (23 cm x 33 cm) baking pan.
Whisk 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Place 1/2 pound (2 sticks or 16 tablespoons--or 224 grams) unsalted butter and 4 ounces (115 grams) chopped unsweetened chocolate in the top half of a double boiler set over a pan of slowly simmering water. Don't have a double boiler? Improvise with a heat-safe bowl set over a saucepan of slowly simmering water. Keep the heat low so the water doesn't boil quickly. Steam is what you need to melt the chocolate evenly--but not a lot of it.
Stir until about half the butter and chocolate has melted, then remove the top half of the double boiler or the bowl from the saucepan below and continue stirring on the counter or in the sink until all of the chocolate and butter has melted. Cool 5 minutes.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and add 2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until the sugar has completely dissolved into the mixture, about 6 minutes.
Beat in 3 large, room-temperature eggs one at a time until smooth. Why room temperature? Because cold eggs will not trap air as well--which is the whole point of all this beating in the first place.
Beat in 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract. Scrape down and remove the beater. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Do not use the mixer. Remember the rule for almost all cakes, quick breads, and cookies: you can barely overbeat the sugar, eggs, and fat; but you definitely can overbeat the mixture once the flour has been added. No stretching of those glutens. Just stir until there are no white pockets of flour left in the mixture.
Spoon and spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Then bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the brownie cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.
Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for 1 hour. Cut the brownies into 24 pieces while they're still in the pan. Carefully remove them with an offset spatula. At this point, the brownies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in a sealed container on the counter for up to 3 days or can be frozen in a zip-closed bag for up to 6 months. As if they'll last that long.