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Jan 3 / suzanne

Extra Fudgy Brownies

A while back my boys came running into the kitchen shouting, “Mom! Come! Big truck! Why? Why?”

The truck was a mondo moving van. We’d gotten new next-door neighbors, a friendly single mom and her 11-year-old daughter. (Potential babysitter?!) Plus: a great opportunity to show the boys how to welcome a new neighbor with homemade food.

The next day the three of us made Extra Fudgy Brownies and assembled a dinner kit with homemade garlic marinara sauce, spaghetti and fresh bread from a bakery. Then we walked next door to deliver the food. The mom wasn’t home, so we left the goods on the kitchen counter.

I thought it was odd when three days went by and I’d heard nothing. Not that my cooking is anything to gush about. But still!

Four days passed. Five. Six. Seven. On the eighth day, I walked over. “Hi, could I get that brownie pan back?” I asked, not that nicely, when the mom opened the door.

Flustered, she told me she hadn’t cleaned it yet. A few hours later her daughter brought over the pan with a note that said, “Thanks! The brownies were good.”

So I’m wondering: Is it considered intrusive these days to drop by a neighbor’s house unannounced? Did I go overboard? I’ll admit that if I hadn’t been recipe testing for our book, I wouldn’t have brought over so much food. Was it rude of me to leave a glass pan, creating work for my neighbor? Should I have delivered the brownies on a paper plate instead? (I would have, but they were hot out of the oven, it was almost bedtime for the boys, and I wanted them to experience delivering the food they’d made.)

Did the idea of baking brownies for new neighbors go out with record players and shag carpets?

Here’s the brownie recipe we made. With just a few more ingredients than a box mix, it’s almost as easy and twice as good. Thank you, Sara! To add your own signature, mix in chopped pecans or walnuts, chocolate chips, chopped peppermint patties, or a spoonful of instant espresso powder.

Extra-Fudgy Brownies

Prep time: 20 minutes/Total time: 2 hours  (includes cooling time)

Makes 32 brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Let cool, but it should remain pourable.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer with a large bowl, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate mixture (a few streaks remaining are okay).

Fold in the flour until just combined (do not overmix). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and a shiny crust has formed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour on a wire rack before slicing.

Cook’s Tip: Bittersweet chocolate has a high percentage of chocolate liquor with little added sugar, resulting in a rich, oh-so-fudgy brownie. Store your chocolate tightly wrapped in a cool, dry, dark place (avoid the refrigerator, as chocolate can easily pick up other odors). Store the brownies, tightly wrapped, for up to 4 days.

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