His Mother’s Brownies

Mother's Brownies

His Mother’s Brownies topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar

This recipe has a story, one of love, food and family. It isn’t one of those recipes written on a piece of paper in Grandma’s handwriting, tucked in her favorite cookbook. It isn’t one of those recipes memorized long ago and passed down through kitchen experiences. It isn’t one of those recipes that has been present at every family function since the beginning of time. But it is, at least for my family, the perfect brownie recipe.

The perfect brownie recipe, discovered by my daughters totally by accident. The perfect brownie recipe approved by them, by my husband-the brownie snob, and by the squirrels at Lake Allatoona.

Let me go back a few years. My husband and I were recently married and I was just beginning to realize that I liked cooking. Although in the early days my cooking really didn’t taste like I liked cooking. When I made brownies, I used a mix.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using a mix, but my new husband really wanted me to make His Mother’s Brownies. Only I didn’t have the recipe for His Mother’s Brownies. Sadly, his Mother had passed away a year before we met, so we couldn’t just call her.

We called his Sister, but she didn’t have a recipe for His Mother’s Brownies either. He swore up and down that the recipe existed and that either she had it and she wasn’t sharing it, or it was tucked away somewhere unseen.

This was pre-internet so I combed through cookbooks and tried several brownie recipes. The response was always “these are good, but they don’t taste like Mother’s Brownies.”

Fast forward ten plus years, it was a rainy day and my daughters and I were looking for something to bake. They wanted brownies, but we didn’t have a mix in the house and I was resistant to trying yet another recipe for Not His Mother’s Brownies.

My girls begged and my oldest daughter went to the pantry and pulled out the cocoa powder. There on the package was a recipe for brownies. I had noticed the recipe on the package for years, but never made it because there was no way a brownie recipe on the package would taste like His Mother’s Brownies.

With pleas for chocolatey goodness ringing in my ears, we made the recipe. They smelled good. They fell just a tiny bit after they cooled so they got that very light crusty layer on top. We thought they were perfect. Moist, chocolatey, slightly fudgy, not too cakey with that light crispy top.

My husband was not home when we made them. When he got home he went to the pantry for a snack and got out a brownie. He took one bite and said “how long have you had the recipe for Mother’s Brownies?” Imagine his shock when he found out His Mother’s Brownies were actually Nestle Toll House Cocoa’s Chewy Cocoa Brownies recipe!

We have been making His Mother’s Brownies ever since, with a few tweaks we like. The original recipe is, of course, still printed on every Nestle Toll House Cocoa package. I’m sure it is on their website. Try it with or without my tweaks, to see if they are Your Mother’s Brownies.

By the way, we took His Mother’s Brownies to a family picnic at Lake Allatoona a few years ago. While we were swimming, a couple of squirrels decided they were Their Mother’s Brownies! There were no brownies for us that day.

This is a true story and I have not received any compensation from Nestle to promote their products. By all means use any brand or type of cocoa powder you wish to make Your Mother’s Brownies!

His Mother’s Brownies

3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 and 2/3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brewed coffee (or one teaspoon espresso powder plus 2 tablespoons hot water), cooled

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 and 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling before serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 11 by 8 inch baking pan (or a 13 by 9 inch baking pan) with buttered parchment.

Melt butter on low in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl, or over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add in the sugar, coffee, vanilla, cocoa powder and eggs and stir just until combined. Now stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until well mixed and no lumps remain (50 strokes should do it).

Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes (for 11 by 8 pan) or 18 to 25 minutes (for 13 by 9 pan). Remove from oven, let cool completely before cutting.

I use an old aluminum baking pan that measures 11 by 8 inches. Why? Because according to my husband, it is the very pan His Mother’s Brownies were baked in. I like it because the brownies are thicker, which results in a slightly fudgier texture.