Monday, November 3, 2008

Grandma's Brownies

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Doesn't that sound fabulous? The brownie you remember your Grandma making? The problem here is twofold: One, I really don't remember my Grandma making them, my mom did and called them Grandma's, does that make them my great-gramdma's? And two, they aren't brownies at all. It's Texas sheet cake. Sadly, like many of my childhood favorites, it wasn't exclusive to the Petitti/Rohlik family. But that's okay, it is a very popular dessert and I have garnered many fans with this recipe.

The recipe is pretty easy, and other than buttermilk, most of the ingredients are on hand for the casual baker. And, I promise you'll find that buttermilk is a great ingredient to have on hand as well. Use it in pancake mix, marinate chicken in it, make real Ranch dressing...just to name a few.

The cake is a light, cocoa cake, very thin in a jelly roll pan. The star is the frosting! Soooo good! I made the recipe without nuts, but a cup of chopped pecans in the frosting or dropped on the moist frosting is a great addition. Paula Deen makes a version of this with a little more butter (surprise, surprise!) and she bakes it in a 9X13. It is delicious any way, but I love the sheet cake. It's a small, thin dessert with the richest frosting! Chill them and it turns into a small, thin dessert with fudge on top! And of course a sheet pan or jelly roll, makes a lot of servings. And yes, there is a difference in the sizes. A jelly roll pan is smaller at 15X10X1 a sheet pan is 18X13X1. Either pan will do, just keep an eye on your baking time.

Grandma's Brownies
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup strong coffee or water + 1 T instant coffee
1/4 cup dark cocoa (I like Pernigotti from Williams Sonoma)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour and sugar in bowl. In a saucepan, combine butter, shortening, coffee and cocoa. Stir and heat to boiling. Pour cocoa mixture over the sugar and flour and mix well. Add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla. Mix well until smooth. I use a hand mixer.
Pour into greased pan, (no Pam, use Baker's Joy). Bake at 400. It will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes depending on the thickness. You will see the cake set.

During the last few minutes of baking, prepare frosting. In a saucepan heat butter, cocoa and milk to boiling. Stir often. Turn off heat. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until frosting is smooth. Add nuts now or later if desired. Pour warm frosting over hot cake.