Need an easy price-performer Valentine? Mark Bittman's recipe produces a thin, fudgy, not-too-sweet classic brownie.
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 tbls unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla (Bittman) or 1 tsp (me)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan (straight sides are best). If you want to be certain you can flip the uncut brownie out of the pan, line the bottom with wax or parchment paper and butter that too.
2. Combine chocolate and butter and melt almost completely on very low heat. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar. Vigorously stir in eggs, one at a time. Add salt and vanilla and stir in flour, mixing only until you see no flour.
3. Pour into pan and bake 20 - 30 minutes. Timing depends on your oven and your taste for a softer vs. firmer brownie. Just use a skinny cake tester or toothpick to make sure brownie has cooked past the goo level.
If you're making a gift, cut squares of plastic wrap and wrap each brownie (be neater than I am). Put six in a box, tie a ribbon. Voila. I've been making brownies as a birthday present for one friend long enough that she has sampled a half-dozen recipes. I wrap each brownie separately so she can hide them and enjoy at her leisure.
Now, brew a cup of ginger tea and eat the side strips you cut off.
Tomorrow, another bigger (for a 13- by 9-inch-pan) brownie recipe, this one with nuts.
If you missed it, here's the site for Mark Bittman's favorites: