Read and Subscribe to Nina Badzin's Blog: http://ninabadzin.com/
Follow Nina on Twitter: @NinaBadzin
Grandma Suzie’s Brownies
by Nina Badzin
I'm going to ruin every other brownie for you. Those cake-like brownies; the frosted ones; the busy ones with nuts, caramel, marshmallows, or cream cheese—you won't stand for any of those chocolate charlatans once you've tasted Grandma Suzie's Brownies.
Ironically, my Grandma Suzie (of blessed memory) was not known for her cooking. She didn't fit the stereotype of the Jewish mother or grandmother busy cooking up feasts and sneaking schmaltz into meals. My mom tells of her mother forgetting about food in the oven until it burned. Of my grandmother's entire cooking repertoire, my mom remembers a rice dish "that was decent," the occasional turkey, and the now-about-to-be famous brownies. I only remember the brownies.
In my mom's words, her mother was unlike any of the other mothers. Grandma Suzie (originally from Buffalo, New York) was an artist who majored in illustration at Syracuse University in the early 40s. She did mechanical drawings as part of her program and was a tool designer in Syracuse until she had children and moved to Rochester, New York. In later years, she dabbled in sculpture and painting. I'm proud to have one of her more abstract pieces hanging in my house. Grandma Suzie was an excellent seamstress, too. My mom remembers receiving a handmade wardrobe for one of her dolls including a coat with a fur collar. And whenever the synagogue put on a play, Grandma Suzie took charge of the costumes and make up.
Given my grandmother's passion for art and design, it's no surprise she always set a gorgeous table, but paid little attention to the food. The only guaranteed delicious treats to come out of her kitchen were those brownies. And they were perfect. According to family legend, she got the recipe from a childhood friend she only saw in the summers at the family lake house in Canada.
The ingredients for the brownies are simple and the directions are delightfully specific. Be sure not to overcook them, and you'll end up with a brownie with just the right amount of gooey-ness. They won't have the too-cake-like properties I find in other brownies. They're rich, but not too rich. Fudgy, but not too-fudgy. I'd describe the texture and taste as fudge's cousin. My husband's cousin, Andrea, and her husband, Jacob, who live in Iceland, made the brownies recently and swear I'm not exaggerating. We're talking international seal of approval, folks.
As for the ingredients, I'll share one piece of advice straight from my mother's mouth: "If you're not going to use real butter, don't bother messing up your kitchen."
I give you Grandma Suzie's Brownies. You can thank me later.
- 2 sticks butter
- 9 squares bitter chocolate
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1.5 cups flour
- 6 eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 11 x 15 jelly roll pan
Exact directions as handed down from Grandma Suzie (Special thanks to my sister, Lisa, for sending me the recipe card in our grandmother's handwriting):
Melt butter and chocolate together over water on low heat. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Pour in butter/chocolate. Mixer is nice, but not necessary. If using mixer, stop and scrape sides and bottom of bowl at least once. Spread in well-buttered and floured jelly pan. Bake about 20-25 minutes in 350 degree pre-heated oven. Remove from oven while still slightly under baked. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Keep in fridge or freezer. This is a big batch!My mom's addition to the directions: "I bake mine for 22 minutes.