The following is a weekly feature brought to us by Sumiko from Near to Nothing. I’ve asked her to share tips and tricks (and recipes!) that show us ways to replace the items we’d typically buy canned or frozen from scratch at home for less! You’ll find a new From Our Pantry post each Monday.
Last week, schools all across the country celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Our school was no exception. The first and second grades had a huge party compete with fanciful face painting, Cat-in-the-Hat crafts, and, of course, food! When the sign-up sheet came home, I knew I wouldn’t be able to volunteer that day, so I went straight to the food section. Fresh fruit? Too expensive. Cut veggies? Too much work. Juice? I just don’t buy juice. Brownies? Ah!! Quick, easy, inexpensive, and irresistible!
One benefit of brownies is that, because they are made in a pan then cut apart, they are quick—bake once. Cookies take a lot longer simply because you can only bake so many at a time and end up baking multiple sheets.
You can make brownies from a box mix. There are some really great mixes out there. And it may even be cheaper to do so if you combine a sale with a coupon. But I prefer to make them from scratch. I always have the ingredients on hand, I know what’s in them, and I can alter them according to my preferences. My super rough estimate is that it costs me about $3 per batch of brownies. I cut 24 brownies for the Dr. Seuss party, but easily could have gotten away with cutting them smaller to get more out of them.
One reason I can make them so frugally is that five out of the eight ingredients come from bulk bins. I love shopping out of bulk bins because it costs less and you can buy just the amount you need.
Most brownie recipes tell you to oil the pan. This does work, but I prefer to line the pan with foil before oiling it. The benefit of this is that, after the brownies are cool, you can use the foil as a sling to lift them all out of the pan at once.
The best way to make these brownies is to use half dark cocoa—so decadent! But when I’m baking them for second graders, I just use regular, and they still turn out amazing. If your cocoa has lumps in it, be sure to sift it.
½ c. flour
1 c. cocoa (or ½ c. dark cocoa and ½ c. regular cocoa)
1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 ½ c. brown sugar (dark or light)
1 c. chips (chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, mint)
Line a 9X13 pan with foil. Spray or wipe with oil; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and salt.
In a large bowl, melt butter. Add sugar and brown sugar; mix well.
Add eggs, two at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix well.
Batter will be really thick. Stir in chips.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan.
Using ends of foil as a sling, lift brownies out and onto cutting board to cut.