Back-to-back pot-luck parties made me turn on the oven for the first time in weeks. I made two batches of my old standby brownies. And then I tried a recipe that I had pulled out of Martha's magazine back in March: Irish-Coffee Blondies.
Since I had to carry the cookies to the party locations, I pulled out a couple of tins from a collection that I've amassed over the years and use to store/transport cookies rather than a traditional cookie jar. The two pictured above are among my favorites and have held a lot of treats over the years. Churchill was a gift from a long-ago boyfriend. I bought the tin commemorating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Anniversary while I was in Chicago for a day on a job interview in 1977.
Here I am, pulling the bars out of their travel tins and arranging them on a serving tray. I always cut brownies into "fingers" so I get a few more bars out of the recipe, but also so they are the right size for everyone who just wants a sweet "bite" of dessert. The Blondies are supposed to be cut into 2-inch squares but I cut them in half again — on the diagonal — and that smaller size seemed just right to me.
You can click on the link at the top for Marth's recipe for Blondies and here's mine for Brownies.
BEST BROWNIES I EVER TASTED
(I gave them this name after I requested the recipe having enjoyed them at a party.)
Melt 2 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate and 1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons) in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup granulated sugan, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and the finely grated rind of a large orange. When this mix is cool, stir in 2 eggs (one at a time). Mix well and add 3/4 cup of flour.
Pour into a 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can cook them a bit longer for a cakier texture. I like the brownies in the center of the pan to have the consistency of chocolate truffles: solid but soft, so I always cook them the shorter time. I test with my finger and consider them done when a light touch no longer leaves an impression. And then I double check with a broom straw.
Cut into 24-32 pieces and dust with powdered sugar. The orange rind adds a touch of sophistication to the brownies and is always a surprise that gets lots of rave reviews.
Here's the view from the screened porch at the country party where these photos were all taken. The hosts had big stacks of china and cutlery gathered from thrift stores which you can see silhouetted and long tables covered with bright green fabric where all the pot-luck offerings were assembled. We had a wonderful time and I also picked up lots of great party organizing ideas!