Random Sunday: Brownies and etc.

Down below is Anita/Musette’s Eleventy-Million Brownie recipe (she made a bunch o’ batches with different additives).   She made every single kind, and then set them out on this ginormous platter at the Scentsation afterparty (if you look carefully you can see them in the photos).  They were also magic because even though we each horked down 27, the pile never got smaller.   They are really rich, so you can cut them small.

But first some unfinished biz:

1) For all of you who’ve asked me/commented about the morphing alien emoticon and I thought you were nuts, frankly: the alien definitely morphs!  I discovered this when I used a browser I’d never visited the website with (IE as opposed to Firefox) when I was checking on our recent invisible-post problem in IE.  Anyhoo, it only did it the first time I visited and I assume it has to do with cache-clearing or some other internetty thing I don’t understand (just ask Patty about everything I don’t understand) but the alien head starts off as a smiley face like the others and then becomes the alien and yes, it is creepy!

2) To the many people I hectored in Bigelow’s asking what is that song?!?, which they were playing on the store speakers and which I remembered from the bad old 80s — I have a page in my silly notebook on which I scrawled maclaren will pwers?  And I knew that wasn’t quite right but I was in the neighborhood, so I concentrated some more on the voice in my head … okay, we have “earworm” for the song you are desperate to forget, but what is the word for the song you have a snippet of and are desperate to remember?  I don’t think there is one.  Taking my evening walk, there it was, out of the blue: Jon and Vangelis (sure, laugh, I don’t care.)  I’d totally forgotten Jon Anderson was the singer for Yes, which is why the voice was so familiar — and State of Independence, which he did with Vangelis in 1981, is the song, and I had the 7″ single.  People reading this who wonder what a 7″ single is, ask your parents.  Thank you Wikipedia for your assistance.  I downloaded the Jon & Vangelis and two other covers Wiki had noted: Donna Summer in 1982 (who knew?) and the fabulous Chrissie Hynde with the Moodswings in the 1992 version.  I think that must have been the version Bigelow was playing, because they’ve picked up the beat (the Vangelis version is very electro-pop, and Donna Summer’s is kind of funk-reggae).  And finally, I will note that buying my umpteenth Starbucks coffee in Chicago I noted their new CD: The Second Wave, songs of the 80s including XTC, Roxy Music, The Cure, and the one that caught my eye — the uber-mope song Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.    When Joy Division is next to Harry Belafonte/Nancy Sinatra, I guess I am … really old.  Gah.  What’s next, Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead in a Saturn commercial?

3) It really did rain in Chicago on Saturday — 6.5 inches, a record for the day.

And now, drumroll please, the recipe, pasted directly from her email and I can practically hear Anita reading this to me, it sounds so like her:

Anita’s brownie recipe 

here ’tis (this is so stupid-easy it makes sneezing look hard:-)

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa (for the dark ones I use 2T Dutch cocoa to 4T reg  or 3/3- all 6 Dutch make it too chalky).  Nothing precise about the Ts.  Heaping okay.  Level okay.  Half heap/half level, okay!

1 stick of butter (8T – for max moistaliciousness I substitute 2T ‘spread’ – seriously.  The 0 trans-fat kind, of course, but something in the spread, which allows for liquid suspension, makes for a moister brownie.  My mother used ALL margarine (Imperial) but I  have a rough time with that.  When I do, though, folks go wild for ’em.  Weird

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1t vanilla (I  go as much as 2t if I’m in the mood, especially Mexican vanilla for the Firecrackers but that’s only if I remember)

3/4 cup flour (unsifted)

pinch of salt

mix cocoa and sugar together, add eggs/vanilla, stir.  Stir in flour, add butter and pinch of salt.

That’s it.  350F for about 28 minutes.

Then you add your fixin’s.  I do:

  • a sea-salt brownie (requires a heavier moisture content, else they taste weird – go 3T margarine to 5T butter).  Check brownies about 22 minutes into the baking – sprinkle some sea salt on them and let them finish up their stint in the oven (these require a heavy chocolate taste so I add a bit of melted bittersweet chocolate to the mix, about 2 squares, chopped (I usually just throw it in the butter after it melts).  Some chocolate chips in the mix boost the chocolate taste as well.

  • Firecrackers.  Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and a dash of cinnamon and the aforementioned bittersweet chocolate.  Chips are optional but appreciated.

  • Traditional.  Chop up some black walnuts, throw them in there.

  • Dulce de leche.  As you pour into the pan, swirl in some burnt caramel (I am afraid to give that recipe – the potential for 3rd degree burns is great – so folks who don’t make their own caramel can just buy a high-grade caramel at the store and cook it a bit).  Add some marshmallow (store-bought is okay but chop them fine – if you make your own marshmallow (okay, I’m trippin’ 4 kids does NOT equal homemade marshmallow:-) when it comes to the soft-ball stage, add some cream and swirl it into the brownie mix – but gently!  You’re looking for thick mallow streaks.

  • Chocolatechocolatechocolate.  Add semisweet chips, bittersweet chocolate and coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate (about 2 squares).  Add a touch of ground espresso beans (or any finely ground coffee bean) for a little zing!  Sometimes I coarsely grind the beans which is really good, too, but I wouldn’t give those to kids unless you are okay with a little bouncing off the walls.

That’s it, I think. If I did anything else I swear I don’t remember but the master recipe hasn’t changed in 80 years, except for the butter-to-margarine-backtobutter.  It was my mother’s mother’s recipe.

If any of this sounds odd or suspicious (or just plain stupid) holla back.   It’s basically a one-bowl hit, I usually don’t even pre-beat the eggs because I am a lazy coot.

If I have time I freeze them for a day and then thaw…..let them come to room temp, they are really moist. 

  • Olfacta says:

    Donna Summer’s “State of Independence” is a great song! It was produced by Quincy Jones, just before he did “Thriller” with Michael Jackson, and is all about the Q playing with the synthesizers that were just coming to the forefront then, and doing it better than anybody before (or since IMHO). It’s a gospel song, really. Actually, the whole album, with Quincy at the helm, is terrific, but was marketed all wrong. To this day, if you play “State of Independence” for somebody and don’t tell them it is Donna Summer, they’ll rave; if you tell them, well, ahem…she’d worn out her welcome in by 1982, the year the album came out. It flopped big-time.

    Got to try the brownies one of these days. The firecrackers especially. Chocolate and hot red pepper!

    • Musette says:


      I totally agree – that Summer version ROCKS! Quincy really is a great producer and on that tune he took Summer’s gospel roots and laid ’em OUT! I used to play that all the time, stomping around the house and feeling righteous. I think people forget what a great voice she had (has?).


    • March the Impressed says:

      Guilty as charged. I saw “Donna Summer” and thought … uh, no thanks!!! And then I busted myself on my snobbery and thought, how bad can it be? And actually it’s great. Her voice is lovely, I happen to like the Moodswings tempo better (I use it for walking the neighborhood with my iPod).

      Hey, you know what I heard yesterday? Blast from the past — Herbie Hancock!! ROCKIT!!!! How great is that? Got to get that too.

  • MattS says:

    I love that Moodswings/Chrissie Hynde song. It’s actually in three parts, so make sure you downloaded all three; you’ll end up with fifteen minutes or so of song. Ahhhh…Joy Division and Bauhaus. After all these years, they still get heavy play on my iPod. I should branch out and download something current.

    If I were a cooking man, I’d make these brownies. As it is, I’ll probably taste them at the next Scentsation.

    • March says:

      I think I only got two parts — isn’t there a part with MLK’s I Have a Dream speech? In any case, I like what I have so far…
      Diva continues to think that Bela Lugosi is Dead is some sort of elaborate put-on and we couldn’t possibly have taken that song seriously. She of the “come on, how do turntables REALLY work”.

  • Musette says:

    So glad you all like it/them. And March, THANK YOU! for giving up the 411 on that blasted alien; the first time that happened I thought I was seeing things. Second time I thought maybe my mind was going…..it creeps the hockey sticks out of me!!!

    Went for a putt to meet up with my non-perfumista pals. They hated Ma Griffe, one loves Frank LA #2 (or 3 – the more citrusy one) and one was totally anosmic to the Femme I was wearing, which I thought was billowing around me like a bug fogger!


    • Existentialist says:

      Smiling at anyone being anosmic to Femme, which I love. Thanks for sharing your recipes. I can’t wait to try the Firecracker & the sea salt. I’ll wear Fleurs du Sel, or Sel de Vetiver when I make the sea salt brownies.

  • Kathryn says:

    Thanks Musette and March for the glorious recipe! Those tips about using a bit of margarine and freezing/thawing the brownies to keep them moist are so interesting that I’ll just have to make some right away to see how that works.

    And while we’re talking about sinful pleasures, here’s another brownie mix-in: Dolloping tablespoons of cream cheese batter and teaspoons of raspberry jam on top of that over the brownie batter, and then swirling them around with a vertically held knife until it looks pretty. To make the cream cheese batter, I throw the following things into a cuisinart,or electric mixer: an 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks; 1/3 cup sugar; 2 T. flour; 2 T. melted butter; 1 egg: 1/2 t. vanilla extract.

    In keeping with the spirit of Musette’s recipe, there’s nothing fussy about this, either. Various times I’ve added more sugar, forgotten to put in the flour, used a little lemon zest or almond extract instead of the vanilla, left out the raspberry jam, or used half as much of the cream cheese in the batter because I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand. Somehow it always comes out just fine. I think the origin of this recipe was in Cooking Light, using low fat cream cheese, but I never bothered with that because a low fat brownie seems oxymoronic to me.

  • Louise says:

    Oh my! All the basic food groups in one wholesome recipe 8-|

    This is fabulous! Thanks Musette for the recipe, and March for sharing this. I think I could rule at a faculty party with these treats =p~

    March, have you tested these on the wee ones? It’s be interesting to see when max choco loading occurs <:-p

  • Mariannetm says:

    Thank you Musette for the recipies of your superheavenlydelicious brownies!!
    I am a real brownielover and as a Dutch girl I grew up with that pure cacao (for chocolatemilk) by Van Houten and fine chocolate from Droste. ( I am marianne from NST)
    When I read what delights you put in them I am sure that no famous chef on this planet can do a better job!!

    Thank you for sharing your recipies..

  • rosarita says:

    Oh my goodness, those sound completely fabulous. Thanks so much! Re the rain, I live in IN and we got over 10″. I kept thinking of you all in Chicago and hoping for the best. It’s hard to keep the weather from deterring a band of determined perfumistas. 😡

  • divinemama says:

    Oh goodie! Thanks so much Musette and March. I smell me some brownies in my future. Me, MY four kids and my BIG T will be covered in chocolate tomorrow. I am thinking the Dulce de Leches might be our first try. Yum!