Today I am pleased to introduce you to one of my wonderful friends who has written today’s post. Kathleen Lewandowski, a professional chef, graphic designer and all around fantastic person wanted to try her hand at writing for you. I know you will love her as much as I do! She made these brownies and sent them to me (she lives in New Jersey and I live in California). They were amazing, traveled really well, and would be perfect for Care Package for your college-age kids or for holiday gift packs. If you like a wallop of chocolate flavor and a blast of sweetness, these are the brownies for you!
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This is my first attempt to writing for the blogosphere. I am not a writer and do not pretend to be one. I am an artist, graphic designer, chef and culinary instructor but not a writer. When asked by my friend Jane Bonacci to guest blog for her, I thought why not just write about your experiences and what you know. So here goes…
Happy Chocolate Monday Everyone!
I met Jane Bonacci last year at the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Conference in Portland, Oregon. Her friendship was the best thing to come out of that conference. She challenged me, encouraged me and gave me culinary career direction. This year we attended the conference in Austin, Texas and I offered to guest blog for one of her Chocolate Monday columns.
Ahh … Chocolate Monday what could be better. I just love dessert and baking. So many recipes to chose from and so many words to write, where do I begin? The humble beginning of our Italian/Polish family heritage is rich in old family recipes and food traditions. My culinary career started without recipes but with my Suzie Homemaker Oven that baked cakes with a light bulb. From that ambitious start as I got older I started cooking baking with my mother Kay, who I am named after (my parents were really original). We always baked homemade goodies for local bake sales, church and school fairs. We even won a few ribbons for our baking.
I probably should have gone to culinary school in the beginning but instead I went to art school and began a long career as an art director in New York City. My love for food was fostered at the many women’s magazines I worked for which all had test kitchens and chefs on staff. While still working my day job, I went to culinary school at night and got my certificate in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education. But enough about me and on to the recipe.
The recipe I would like to share with you is from the Foster’s Market in Durham, North Carolina. I ventured south a few years ago, on a trip to visit a work colleague who had moved there from New Jersey. One day she said to me, “You are a foodie and I want to take you to a place you will just love.” It was the Foster’s Market, owned and run by Sara Foster. Sara had worked for Martha Stewart in her kitchen and catering business back in the early days in Connecticut. The Market was full of Sara’s tasty home-style foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The cafe had country charm and a laid back vibe. What an experience.
Upon returning home I got my hands on a copy of the Foster’s Market Cookbook and started reading the recipes. As a chef and foodie you know we do this for fun and cookbooks, recipes, and food magazines are an addiction. I stumbled upon this brownie recipe and gave it a try. Well as far as I was concerned I need look no further for a brownie recipe. This was the one and only! Chocolaty, moist and chewy, just how I like them.
Since then I have shared this recipe with countless friends and family. I have baked them for work, school and charity events. My sister uses the recipe and gets requests for the brownies all the time too. We had office coworkers in Manhattan clamoring for our brownies and devouring the boxes we sent to friends and family. The recipe is always a winner.
Yes I know you will look at the ingredients and think this a heart attack on a plate, but it’s OK as long as you don’t eat the entire pan at one sitting! You can make the full recipe if you need/want a lot of brownies or the recipe is easily cut in half. They also freeze well. I have even successfully made these as brownie pops adding the sticks after they are baked.
Have a fun Chocolate Monday!
Kathy’s Tips and Hints:
I recommend that you grease the pan and lay a piece of parchment paper in the bottom before pouring in the batter. This adds to the ease of cutting and eliminates trimming the edges.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 large eggs
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
- Set the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Lightly grease and flour a 17 x 12 x 1-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Shift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.
- Cream together the eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix.
- Fold in the optional walnuts and chocolate chips and stir to blend. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are firm to touch. They will be slightly soft in the center when tested with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool about 40 minutes before cutting.
- Remove from the pan, trim the edges and cut into 2-1/2 by 3 inch bars.
- Chocolate tip: Hershey’s chocolate chips and cocoa powder work well in this recipe, however, better baking chocolates such as Valrhona,Scharffen Berger and Ghirardelli are my preferred chocolates for baking.
- Yield: about 24 brownies.
- Kathleen Lewandowski is a chef who graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is a personal chef in addition to working in the kitchens of Verofarms in Rivervale, New Jersey. She worked on Sara Moulton’s IACP award winning book “Everyday Family Dinners” (2010). When not cooking and baking Kathy can be found shopping at farmer’s markets, tending her garden, at the beach or listening to U2.