17 August, 2009  |   8 Comments

Recipe: Naptime Brownies

You and I can make these brownies during the course of a Nora Lea nap (which seem to be getting shorter and shorter by the day, sigh).

Thirty minutes.
Thirty minutes is all it takes to whip up some exquisite brownies.
Thirty minutes from scratch.

Naptime brownies

Magical ingredientI put off buying instant espresso powder for a long time. “Too hard to find,” I protested, “Not in the budget this week,” I said.   But I was wrong.  It wasn’t that hard to find and not that hard to budget for.

That was two years ago and I’m almost half-way through the container.

Good value, is all I’m saying.
Worth it, is all I’m saying.

It adds a better flavor to chocolate stuff than just chocolate. Instant espresso powder makes chocolate pudding more complex, it makes truffles less tooth-aching, it makes chocolate cupcakes a little more, well, more.

So, go shake out your change jar and get some already!

1 1/4 stick butter cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 1/4 stick granulated sugar
1 cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder (As with most my recipes, I use Penzeys)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 325°.

In a medium-sized bowl, add butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and espresso powder. Toss all these ingredients together until the butter is well-coated with cocoa powder and other brown granules.

Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Remove bowl and stir.
Put the bowl in the microwave again for 30 seconds on high. Remove bowl and stir again.
By this time, the bowl should be warm and the butter should be starting to melt and mix with the dry ingredients. If this is the case, (since microwaves and medium-sized microwave-safe bowls are like snowflakes) put the bowl in the microwave for a final 30 seconds.

Stir, stir and stir until you have a dark brown fudgy grainy mess.

Add one egg, stir and stir until it’s incorporated.
Add the other egg, stir and stir until that’s incorporated.
Add the vanilla. Stir until that’s incorporated and you’re almost there.

Add the 1/2 cup of flour and stir kindly. What I mean to say is that you need to be gentle here. Just mix until the flour is barely incorporated.

When all is mixed, plop brownie mixture into a flour or parchment-lined 8×8″ pan and smooth out the top so it’s as even as you can muster.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on your tolerance for fully-cooked brownies. My tolerance is low, so I err near the 20 minute mark.

Now for the most difficult part of the recipe – let cool completely on a rack or on one of your burners. It’s important, this part with the cooling, to let the brownies set up and save your tongue from a brutal burning.

Serve with either a dusting of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream or a tall glass of milk.

Look at what you can do!

8 thoughts on “Recipe: Naptime Brownies

  1. 1
    Kathleen says:

    Love reading you, Helen Jane – your graces and your brokey recipes bring a smile to my face! Also, must tell you – I also have a baby Nora (18 months) and I am planning a Penzeys trip very soon, regardless of my current brokey status – other vanilla and spices just don’t cut it!

  2. 2
    Emme says:

    Okay, those look like some seriously amazing brownies. And they’re probably something I could actually bake during my boy’s 27-minute naps.

    Plus, I would have just about 2 minutes left over to kick my heels up and relax. Win-win!

  3. 3
    Shelly says:

    These look delicious–thanks for the recipe. As for the nap thing, once she goes down to one a day, it will get long again (my son did the same thing–two short ones, but now he does one long one each day of about 2-3 hours).

  4. 4
    Jen says:

    Oh I just love your recipes & posts Helenjane!! Are these brownies pretty darn fudgy with the 1/2 cup of flour and lots of gooey ingredients? They look SO good! Instant coffee powder (no espresso powder to be found in my little corner of Iowa) has been my chocolate recipe secret for a long time…it makes a huge difference :o)

  5. 5
    Helen Jane says:

    They’re less fudgy than I thought they’d be — I think because we’re not melting chocolate here that the cocoa powder absorbs all the liquid.

    Also, I failed to mention that that’s sea salt sprinkled on top of that brownie pile.

    Yeah, I went there.

  6. 6
    Anne says:

    Yum, sea salt. Salty + Sweet = win.

    I use the old New York Times brownie recipe, which is tried and true; it uses unsweetened chocolate squares instead of cocoa powder. Do you have insights on powder vs. chocolate?

  7. 7

    I have that very same jar of espresso power in my pantry. (well, not in the defying-the-laws- of-physics way, but you know what I mean…)

  8. 8
    jenB says:

    I have a similar recipe and to add that extra fudgeyness, I toss in about 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Hooray for replies!