Tag Archives: cocoa

What I Don’t Know About Brownies. . . .

What I don’t know or understand about brownies could fill a cookbook. I have no interest in eating one, and I have never received high marks for the ones I’ve made. Looking at a brief comparison of four recipes shows one reason I might be excused for my incompetence:


People can’t even agree on the ratio of butter to flour, even when two of the recipes come from the same chef. And moving between those baked in 8″ square or 9″ x 13″ pans, you still can’t figure out how or why the ratios change.

Probably, you just found your favorite recipe once and stuck to it. Me? I have just avoided making brownies. I do have one post on this site that reviews a packaged brownie mix that turned out very well, but I haven’t made any from scratch since then. So, I can’t answer why I’m putting myself through the torture of making brownies from scratch, again, but here I am. The good news is that my husband will eat them even if he thinks they aren’t premium.

To save myself the further headache of trying to create a new recipe from these 4, I’m just going to take the first recipe in the list and double it for a 9″ x 13″ pan, with a few changes:

  • I bought semi-sweet instead of unsweetened chocolate, mostly because I don’t think straight when I buy chocolate
  • I’m leaving out the baking powder—I don’t like it in banana bread, so why would I use it here?
  • Most of the recipes use pecans, but I’m using walnuts
  • And, of course, I added salt

Surprisingly, these brownies were dubbed “Quite a brownie—chewy, fudgy, and with frosting.” Maybe I should save this recipe.

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

  • Servings: 24 2-inch brownies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • The brownies are adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook (1995) “Iced Brownies.”
  • The frosting is from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book (1961) “Creamy Cocoa Icing.”

Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. I used a dark pan and the edges were pretty dark, but not burned. Stewart suggests a glass dish.


2 sticks butter

4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups walnuts, barely chopped

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside.
  2. In large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in butter and chocolate and mix until combined. I used a hand mixer.
  4. Continue mixing, adding eggs and vanilla, until well combined. It makes a glossy batter.
  5. Stir in nuts.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the center.
  7. Cool in pan, then frost and cut in 24 or more squares.

Creamy Cocoa Icing

2 2/3 cups confectioners sugar (I did not sift mine and it turned out fine)

1/3 cup cocoa

1/3 cup soft butter

4-5 tablespoons milk

Mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. I used a large spoon, but I’m sure a mixer would be quicker.

Links to the compared recipes from the web:

Best Ever Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Fudge-Topped Brownies

Martha Stewart’s “Iced Brownies” (not available online, see image below)



Chocolate Cream Pie with Lactaid® Whole Milk

Lactaid® whole milk is new to me, but I’ve been trying to cook with it, mostly for things only my husband will eat that call for milk. It has more sugars than regular milk, and that can’t be good for me. So, I’ll be using it for chocolate desserts that don’t appeal to me, like this chocolate cream pie. I was concerned about whether it would set like a filling with regular milk. I tried it once, using tapioca starch for the thickening, but it would not set up at all, even though it seemed to thicken in the pan as I was cooking it. So I tried it again with the traditional cornstarch, and it came out fine, as you can see.

The recipe comes from my old Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book (1961), p. 354. It has the option of using unsweetened baking chocolate or cocoa powder. I used the latter. I was out of granulated sugar, so I substituted powdered sugar 1:1, since the milk is sweeter than regular milk. The recipe reflects my choices.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Lactaid® Whole Milk

  • Servings: 1 9-inch pie
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I made a pie crust from refrigerated dough and let it cool while I cooked the filling.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups Lactaid® whole milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Mix the powdered sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a large saucepan.
  2. Slowly whisk in milk until all the cocoa is dissolved.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the filling thickens and boils. Boil for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, and quickly whisk about half of the filling mixture into the egg yolks; then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
  5. Boil the mixture for another minute, whisking constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
  7. Pour into baked pie shell and cool on counter or in refrigerator.

I hear that it’s very creamy and plenty sweet, even though powdered sugar is usually not a 1:1 substitute for granulated. It looks so good, I almost wish I liked chocolate.

Coconut Streusel Cocoa Muffins

I’m not a big fan of chocolate, but I had a half cup of cocoa taking up space in the cupboard, so I looked around to see if anyone ever made a cocoa muffin, because I wanted something lower on the scale of desserts—not too sweet and with a substantial texture somewhere between cake and bread. I also had some unsweetened shredded coconut taking up its own space, so I looked for coconut streusel recipes and added chopped walnuts—yes, a half cup of walnuts were sitting in the fridge staring at me. So this was pretty much a recipe to help clear up space in the kitchen.

Continue reading Coconut Streusel Cocoa Muffins