The best brownies

I have been baking brownies for nearly as long as I can remember – starting when I was in fourth grade. I can vividly remember the plastic spiral bound Children’s Hospital Cookbook that had recipes submitted by the women volunteers at a local hospital. The brownie recipe I frequently made from it was good, not great, as I recall – not enough chocolate flavor for my taste – even then.

When I met my husband I was already a brownie mix convert (one of the few instances when a mix produces a delicious baked good, in my book) but didn’t have an allegiance to any particular mix. My husband, however, would only use the Duncan Hines mix, and only if you use milk instead of water when preparing the batter.

Now I have been converted back to homemade brownies but only with this recipe that my friend and neighbor brought back from vacation some years ago. She too is a brownie baker and she said the brownies she had on vacation made by a family friend were the best she’d ever had. Simple, truly chocolaty with hardly any flour, these are the real deal. I make these at least once a week (my kids love to help) and always have the ingredients on hand:


4 (1 oz. each) squares unsweetened chocolate (4 ounces chocolate total)

1/3 c. butter

2 eggs

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

Line a 9″ x 9″ pan with foil. Butter foil. Melt the chocolate and butter and stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is a uniform consistency (you can use a double boiler but I just put a small bowl in the microwave and stir and check every minute or so to make sure it doesn’t burn). In a separate medium size bowl beat the egg and sugar until a light yellow color and creamy. Add chocolate mixture and stir. Add vanilla, add flour and salt, mix until combined and pour into pan. Bake at 350 degreesfor 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. I start checking at 18 minutes – do not overcook.

You can jazz the brownies up with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar if you would like, but they are equally delicious straight up.

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Rachael Ray