Friday, November 28

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

Last week our good friend, Ed, was here helping Jim with some renos and maintenance. Normally, my job during this kind of work is to make supply runs to Home Depot and feed the guys so they can keep working. This time, however, I wasn't going to be here and they'd have to fend for themselves. Still, I wanted to leave them with a little treat before I flew out the door so I whipped up these quick and easy brownies, mostly because I had the ingredients on hand and it's one of the fastest recipes I've got, but also because nothing says "thanks for installing a new sink vanity" like chocolate.

I wasn't planning to share this recipe with you since I already have one (delicious!) brownie recipe on here, plus a recipe for fudgy cocoa cookies, and not to mention this ever-popular mocha porter chocolate cake. I thought maybe enough is enough, but then I came to my senses and remembered there is no such thing as too much chocolate!

So the next time a chocolate craving hits when you're in a hurry and your pantry is down to the basics —or you want to thank somebody in a deliciously meaningful way— whip up a batch of these brownies and lose yourself to chocolate in no time flat.

Quick pan prep: just press in a sheet of parchment paper and crimp over the edges.

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

These brownies are made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate, which makes for a soft, tender texture. It also means they mix up quickly by cutting out the extra step of chopping and melting chocolate. Another time-saving trick is to use a 9" pan instead of an 8" pan because the thinner layer of batter in the larger pan bakes more quickly than a thicker layer in a smaller pan. If all you have is an 8"pan, go ahead and use it but add a few minutes to the baking time.

  • 5 oz (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Melt the butter in a large glass mixing bowl in the microwave or in a medium size sauce pan on the stove top. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth, then the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Sift the flour and baking powder over top and stir with the whisk until just combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly puffed and dry, about 24-26 minutes. Let cool (if you can) before slicing and serving.

* I used dutch process cocoa powder in the brownies pictured here, but the recipe works just as well with regular non-alkalized cocoa powder. Use whichever you have on hand.

Friday, November 21

Winter comes early

The snow is deeper than the Coop Deck and nearly to the top of the Muskoka chairs.

 It's not unusual to have the occasion snowfall or short blast of flurries in November. In fact, most years we get a little taste of snow as a prelude of the winter to come, but it's usually an insubstantial dusting that melts within days. Not this time.

The snow started for earnest in the second week of November and it basically hasn't stopped. It is now November 21st, a month before winter officially arrives, but it looks like February out there -- a particularly snowy February at that!

I don't know if all this snow is here to stay until spring. We've got some more seasonal, above-freezing temperatures and rain in the forecast so we may see the grass again before winter arrives for good. Until then, we'll strap on our snowshoes and enjoy the fluffy stuff!

Jim had to snowshoe to the chicken coop to check on the ladies.

More snow falls.
That's the picnic table in front of the gazebo frame.
The Muskoka chairs around the fire bowl.
This way to winter!
Walking in a wonderland.
 There's plenty of winter still to come. Find out how you can enjoy the snowy season with a Winter Getaway package for snowshoeing, dog sledding, or a cozy weekend in the country.