Since most kids and their parents love a good brownie, why not make them “from scratch?”
What? But a box mix is so easy, why go to the trouble? And the flavor is just as good
Wrong on both counts. Scratch brownies are just about as easy as those from a boxed mix. Plus they taste better (not even a trace of “artificial flavors”). Best of all, an easy recipe for something as yummy as brownies fosters confidence in young bakers and teaches them some useful kitchen skills.
Call the Kids
Because chocolate brownies are so simple to make, your kids can prepare most of the batter on their own. You will want to chop the chocolate, if the recipe calls for it, and deal with the hot oven.
Let the children grease the brownie pan — usually an eight- or nine-inch square pan — using a little softened butter or margarine, or lightly spraying it with flavorless vegetable oil. Monitor the kids so that they don’t douse the pan with the vegetable spray; let’s face it, it’s fun to work that spray can!
They can also measure the sugar and any liquid (not all brownie recipes have liquid, while some call for a little water or milk).
If they have mastered the art of breaking eggs, let them mix the eggs into the batter. Regardless of your proficiency with eggs, it’s always a good idea to break eggs, one at a time,into a small dish (like a custard cup) and then slide them into the mixing bowl. This way, any shell that happens to break off can easily be removed.
Let the kids measure the flour and then whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
Because brownies are so easy, there is no reason to haul out the standing mixer or even a hand-held mixer. Most brownie batters can be stirred with a wooden spoon if mixed in a large bowl. Of course, if you want to, use the mixer.
Make ‘Em As You Like ‘Em!
Once you have followed a recipe for a homemade brownie and realized how easy and delicious the outcome, consider modifying it for your family.
A lot of kids don’t like nuts and so if the recipe calls for walnuts or pecans, simply leave them out. No problem.
On the other hand, if your family finds almonds addictive, substitute them for the walnuts.
The recipe may call for block chocolate, coarsely chopped and melted. You could substitute the same amount of chocolate chips, which are a lot easier to handle. The trick is to make sure you use the same kind of chocolate: bittersweet chocolate for bittersweet; unsweetened for unsweetened; milk chocolate for milk chocolate.
Most brownie recipes use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. These are interchangeable in brownie recipes (and most others). This means, if your recipe calls for 16 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips (the most common kind), you can switch in 16 ounces of very high-quality bittersweet (sometimes called dark) chocolate.
A Little More Fun!
Your kids may have some great ideas for customizing the brownies. They might want to stir in an extra handful of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate without melting it first.
Let them stir in a cup or so of mini marshmallows, or some peanut butter chips and maybe some coarsely chopped peanuts, too.
If they want to, encourage your kids to spread the top of the cooled brownies with melted chocolate or another kind of frosting.
So, gather the kids, bake some brownies and then pour tall glasses of cold milk for a happy treat.