Mix up your own brownies

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Sora Batts, 10, mixes up a batch of brownies. Personalize the recipe to reflect your families' preferences. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
Sora Batts, 10, mixes up a batch of brownies. Personalize the recipe to reflect your families' preferences. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

Granddaughter Sora and I are back in the kitchen this summer. We’ve already made two recipes and plan more, so keep reading this summer and make some good food with the special kids in your life.

Sora enjoys helping me in the kitchen, and she was ready to cook something new once school ended last month.

I asked her for suggestions of recipes she’d like to try this summer, and she had some good ideas.

First up was a batch of brownies.

Sora, who is now 10, and I spent a bit of time reading multiple brownie recipes online. We found several on the Nestle website, verybestbaking.com. She liked a specific recipe without frosting but was leery of trying it because it included nuts. The recipe also didn’t have a frosting. I took this as a teaching moment.

I explained to Sora that we didn’t have to follow the recipe word for word. That we could improvise and make changes to reflect what we all liked.

For instance, I suggested that instead of adding nuts, we could add chocolate chips. She liked that idea.

I also suggested we find a frosting or glaze from another recipe. I showed her a brownie recipe that included a simple chocolate frosting. All you do is scatter chocolate chips on the hot brownies, then spread the chocolate as the chips start to melt. She was curious if that would work, so we tried it.

We read over the fudgy chocolate brownies recipe together before starting, and I pointed out the ingredient list included all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. I explained to her that we could use self-rising flour instead of those three ingredients. I also told her 1 2/3 cups of granulated sugar was a lot of sugar. We discussed how it was a good thing to cut down on our sugar intake and how I often cut the amount of sugar I use in recipes.

She asked me how much sugar we should cut. We settled on 1/3 cup, meaning we were still adding 1 1/3 cups of sugar. No one noticed the omission of that 1/3 cup, I promise. In fact, I would probably lower the sugar to 1 cup when I make the recipe again.

After we read and discussed the recipe, we set up a place to work on the kitchen table and gathered the ingredients as well as measuring cups and measuring spoons.

Sora melted the butter in the microwave so it could start to cool, then mixed the recipe with a spoon. (I love recipes that don’t require an electric mixer.)

Before long, the batter was mixed, spread into the prepared baking pan and smelling good in the oven.

As soon as the cooking time ended, Sora poured 3/4 cup of miniature chocolate chips on the hot brownies. Within a few seconds, we could tell the chocolate chips were melted. I picked up a spoon and showed Sora how to use the back of the spoon to start spreading out the chips, and in no time, she had a nice frosting on her brownies.

Sora and I had no intention of waiting for dinnertime to eat our dessert. Sora had a quick lesson on how to cut brownies and gave us each a square.

Oh my goodness, the brownies were so good! Her daddy and grandpa agreed. They didn’t last too long at my house!

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour*

3/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar (I reduced to 1 1/3 and might use even less next time)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts (We used chocolate chips)

Extra 3/4 chocolate chips if you’d like to add frosting*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13X9-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Stir in sugar, butter, eggs, water, oil and vanilla extract vigorously in large bowl. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in nuts if using. Spread into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (mine needed 20 minutes) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.


*We used self-rising flour and omitted the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. If you’d like frosting on the brownies, sprinkle 3/4 cup chocolate chips (we used mini chocolate chips) as soon as the brownies come out of the oven. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread the chocolate as it melts.