The “Pan”-Demic Experiments

“Sometimes you feel like a nut / Sometimes you don’t / Almond Joy’s got nuts / Mounds don’t” was the jingle used during the 1970s to advertise two of my favorite candy bars. 

SONY DSC

By Evan-Amos – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11364190

And, likewise, sometimes, I feel like doing culinary research for several hours, shopping at multiple grocery stores and markets, gathering stand mixer, blender, bread machine, and an array of measuring cups and measuring spoons on my countertop, to create a dessert worthy of the final round of Food Network’s Chopped. However, sometimes, I just want to whip up something quickly with what I have on hand, get it in the oven, and have it on a saucer thirty minutes later. 

Yes, these sorts of desserts rely heavily on packaged, processed elements, but while this pandemic has bestowed upon us all ample time for big projects, it hasn’t always given us the energy or enthusiasm for them. I do enough cooking and baking from scratch that it doesn’t bother me one bit to give my family something made from a box once in a while. 

One recent COVID-19 night my older daughter, who lives and works from home, was itching for a brownie. We had no packaged brownie mix, and we had not found a source for all-purpose flour yet, which was nowhere to be seen on the shelves of our local grocery store. We did have a chocolate cake mix, though. So, off to the internet we went where we quickly found a food blog about cake mix brownies. I’ve been making cake mix cookies for years–one cake mix, two eggs, and a half-cup of vegetable oil mixed together by hand with a wooden spoon, portioned out with an ice cream scoop onto a baking sheet, and voila, a batch of cookies before you can bat an eye. But, brownies? 

Our first experiment produced something that totally satisfied her craving for a brownie, moist and slightly gooey, definitely chocolate and cakey. The best part was that it only required four ingredients and one bowl, a wooden spoon, and one pan: chocolate cake mix, two eggs, half-cup of vegetable oil, and a cup of chocolate chips, mixed by hand and spread into a greased 8×8 square cake pan. Baked for 20 minutes at 350°, the results were amazing, and better yet, FAST.

Yesterday, I decided to experiment again, this time with a yellow cake mix, which I mixed with the requisite two eggs and half-cup of vegetable oil, but I also added one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and a cup of cinnamon chips I had stashed away in the freezer. After I spread it out into the greased 8×8 square cake pan, I sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar and baked it for 20 minutes at 350°. Cinnamon Chip BrownieMy daughter said it tasted like the cinnamon swirl coffee cake at Starbucks, which I haven’t tried but I’ll take her word for it. Suffice it to say, we were all happy to sit on the back patio with a cup of coffee and a quick treat that didn’t leave the kitchen looking like a White House State Dinner had just been prepared. 

Next on the list for experimentation: strawberry brownies! Stay tuned!

A Can Full of Memories

hershey barMy father told me once that his favorite treat as a child was a sandwich made of white bread, sweetened condensed milk, and a Hershey bar, left to warm outside in the hot Louisiana sun. I can just picture my dad, the little boy known by all as “T-Roy”, (Cajun for “petite Roy” or perhaps, as his mother and older sister would have felt, “little king”), biting into it, with the softened chocolate oozing into the warm and creamy condensed milk, and the gooey mixture squirting out of the sides of this dessert sandwich. This, no doubt, would have been washed down with a glass of milk, fresh from the cow.

Open can of condensed milkI grew up seeing a can of sweetened condensed milk sitting, opened with its metal lid hinged upward, on the counter next to my Aunt Helen’s coffee pot. She liked a spoon of it in her coffee, instead of sugar and regular milk, to create the perfect café au lait. I also have strong memories of seeing my cousin Penny eating the condensed milk out of the can with a spoon. We didn’t use it at home; my parents drank their coffee black with sugar, until much later in life when my dad started adding a bit of milk from the fridge to his coffee. And, since my mother was not much of a baker, we didn’t regularly have it around for making desserts.

mil cartonFresh milk, however, was a staple of my childhood home and of mine today. My brothers consumed vast quantities of milk along with entire boxes of cereal as an afterschool snack. My mom kept us well-stocked with milk, even though she didn’t drink it at all herself. My dad preferred a glass of milk with his lunchtime “half a sandwich”, only occasionally having “half a Coke” instead. For supper, the evening meal, I don’t remember him having anything to drink, until much later in life, when he started drinking red wine. He often had a glass of milk before bed, something I continue to do to this day.

canned milk and canned sweetened milkI am often asked by friends, who all know I love to cook and bake, what is the difference between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. The answer is simple: sugar. Evaporated milk is just milk that has had half of its water content removed. Evaporated milk can be substituted in recipes for regular milk by adding water or straight out of the can for a richer, creamier result. For the most delicious mashed potatoes, try using evaporated milk. Just peel, cube, and boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain them and allow them to “dry” a bit before adding them back to the still hot pan they were cooked in. Mash and season with salt and pepper, adding evaporated milk straight from the can until the glorious off-white mountain is the consistency you prefer. Then, add softened or melted butter, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve to the sounds of oohs and aahs from your loved ones.

Bisquick_Heart_SmartMy family loves pancakes, waffles, and biscuits made from Bisquick, and years ago, when one of my daughters asked for Bisquick biscuits, I used evaporated milk because we were running low on fresh milk. The biscuits were even more tasty than usual, and since then I’ve always used evaporated milk for the Bisquick recipes. Nowadays I use the Heart Smart Bisquick and fat-free evaporated milk to prepare the recipes straight from the side of the Bisquick box. Of course, fat-free does not matter much on a low-carb health plan, so Bisquick doesn’t feature regularly in our meal planning much anymore.

peanut butter fudge recipeSweetened condensed milk is also fresh milk that has also been evaporated by half, with the missing liquid being replaced by sugar. These two products, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, cannot be used interchangeably, but they both have their place in my pantry of staples. This is something I had to sort out myself years ago when I found a long-lost family recipe for fudge. The recipe, handwritten on a piece of paper torn from a stenographer’s pad, calls for “one large can cream”. When I first found the recipe in 2002, buried in a box of newspaper clippings, junk mail, and ephemera from my daughters’ elementary school, I knew right away I had found the missing treasure, the secret to my Aunt Lillian and my cousin Joy’s famous peanut butter fudge, but I was stymied by the term “can of cream”. I remember calling home, from Belgium to Louisiana, to ask my mom and dad what was a can of cream. My dad’s first answer was, pet milk“A can of Pet milk.” Next question: “What is Pet milk?” Finally, we established it was simply a can of evaporated milk, and off to the kitchen I went to recreate the dense, creamy perfection known as Aunt Lillian’s Peanut Butter Fudge. All of my daughters’ teachers that Christmas received a box of the fudge, and even those spoiled by growing up with Belgian chocolate and French pastries, swooned at the first taste.

Dr West fudge recipeI have another recipe, in my own handwriting, which calls for “3 cups cream” and in parentheses I have written “evap. milk” to clarify. This recipe I believe came from my friend Donna West, whose father was the local dentist. He made the best chocolate fudge and I think this is his recipe. I can remember eating it out of a glass Pyrex dish standing at the counter in her kitchen.

refrigerator lemon pieI also have been the recipient of handwritten recipes calling for evaporated milk’s first cousin, sweetened condensed milk. My mom sent me a recipe for “ice-box lemon pie”, advising me that she used to make it “years ago” but stopped because the raw eggs scared her after her kidney disease and subsequent kidney transplant. This recipe doesn’t scare me, especially with the availability of pasteurized eggs, and it is very simple to make, but the filling has somewhat of a “tinny” taste to me, no doubt caused by the sweetened condensed milk not having any actual cooking time to mellow out the canned taste.

hello dolly #1Another one of my cousin Penny’s sweet concoctions is the Hello Dolly cookie bar. This is no ordinary cookie, and could be used to test the levels of blood sugar after fasting, instead of the nasty glucose drink forced upon me when I was pregnant. It’s a simple layered cookie bar recipe: graham crackehello dolly #2r crust, layer of chocolate chips, layer of chopped pecans, layer of coconut, and then topped off with a can of sweetened condensed milk drizzled over the top. After baking, it is necessary to let it cool before tasting, or risk burning the roof of your mouth from the caramelized sugary liquid glue holding the layers together.

When you have tired of drizzling it over cookie bars or into your coffee, there are many other uses for sweetened condensed milk. Perhaps the most popular use for it outside of the United States is dulce de leche. This is sweetened condensed milk that has been slowly cooked until it caramelizes and browns, turning it into a thick, toffee-flavored spreadable substance that finds itself in between layers of butter cookies, known as alfajores, or used as the filling in a jelly roll sponge cake known as pionono. My husband LOVES dulce de leche, and while living in Belgium, I became friends, via French classes, with a woman from Argentina and a woman from Nicaragua. One day I innocently asked how to make dulce de leche and started something of a cultural war as they both excitedly tried to tell me how it was made in their family homes. It is a bit scary, placing unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a large stock pot filled with water, bringing it to a boil, and then reducing the heat to a simmer for three hours. The water must always be kept well above the tops of the cans or you will have sweetened condensed milk dripping from the ceiling of your kitchen after the cans explode. This can now be purchased ready-made, in a can that looks a lot like the sweetened condensed milk cans on your grocer’s shelves, but there is something satisfying about opening that can, after it has completely cooled, and unearthing that sweet, sticky goodness of dulce de leche that you created yourself.

In the rear of the Argentinian restaurant near our house tubs of dulce de leche can be purchased, as well as the jelly roll sponge cake, ready to be slathered with the toffee filling and rolled up. All it needs at that point is a dusting of powdered sugar and you have a delicious and exotic treat, albeit “assembled” rather than “homemade”.

Another shortcut dessert that takes just a bit more effort is a home cook’s version of the alfajores. The butter cookies are made using a box of yellow cake mix, and then spread with the dulce de leche, whether store-bought or simmered to perfection on your own stove. Cake box sandwich cookies are very easy to make: one box of cake mix (any flavor), two eggs, and one-half cup of vegetable oil. Mix together well, and then portion out onto parchment-lined baking sheets using a mini-ice cream scoop. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly cracked on top and lightly browned on bottom. Allow to cool and then make a sandwich cookie with two of them and a filling of your choice: dulce de leche or a tub of frosting. My friends and family members adore these, and I’ve tried many variations: German chocolate cake mix with coconut pecan frosting, red velvet cake mix with cream cheese frosting, or lemon cake mix with dark chocolate fudge frosting.

A few years ago I became friends with a middle-grade children’s book author, Cindy Callaghan. At the time she had one published book, Just Add Magic, which was a fun read about a magic cookbook. I started a book club at my school, and after we read the book, we made some of the recipes in the back of the book and had a Skype visit with Callahan. We exchanged emails where I gave her feedback on the recipes and volunteered my cooking skills in the event she was in need of future themed-recipes. She gave me the wonderful opportunity to develop some easy to prepare treats for her next book, Lost in London, and featured my article on the British tradition of afternoon tea on her blog, along with my recipes. One of those recipes was for Banoffee Pie, a layered dessert consisting of a graham cracker crust, a layer of dulce de leche, sliced bananas, and whipped cream.

I absolutely love food, whether it is eating it, cooking it, shopping for it, or reading about it. During this journey of “an essay a week for one year”, I’ve discovered that I love writing about it as well. I love exploring the history of various foods and ingredients, finding their origin and connecting it back to my childhood memories. Many of our earliest memories revolve around food, and digging around a bit to find out the background on some of those memories is very rewarding. Whether it is a handwritten recipe thought to be long-lost, or a favorite cookbook, grease-stained and dog-eared, these things are all a part of me, even as I say goodbye to those I love who created these food memories for me.

Comfort Food, or a Meal for Comfort?

GRITS socksI was born and raised in southeast Louisiana. I didn’t go far for college, only 100 miles, and after graduation I stayed in my college town until I moved to the Washington, DC, area in early 1988. Thus, for over thirty years, I ate, drank, and lived the life of a true member of “GRITS”, a “girl raised in the south”. (I didn’t come up with that clever acronym; it was on a pair of tennis socks I bought in a gift shop in the Grand Ole Opry Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, while on a business trip.)

I noticed the difference right away, virtually the first week after moving into my high-rise apartment in Bethesda, Maryland. Each morning I would take the elevator downstairs to walk to work. Most mornings I would arrive at the elevator at the same time as another young woman, about my age, and as we left the apartment building she was always headed in the same direction as me. The first few days I smiled at her and waited awkwardly in silence to reach the lobby. After about a week, when we got in the elevator I introduced myself and commented that it looked like we were walking to work in the same direction. We made small talk until we reached the lobby and then she said, “Have a good day” and sped off ahead of me. I never saw her again, and I lived there for two and a half years!  Obviously she didn’t want to chat with me in the elevator each morning or walk with me into downtown Bethesda, so she altered her morning schedule to avoid me. In the inimitable words of Dorothy, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”.

I experienced this same distant behavior frequently in my early years living in the DC area. Some people speculate that it is because of the transient nature of the area, with people coming to DC to work on Capitol Hill, with the military, or at NIH. Even if they stay in the area long-term, living in the immediate suburbs is expensive and stressful, so most people move farther out where they can afford to buy a house and start a family. Once my husband and I had a family of our own and our girls were in school, we found friends amongst the parents of their friends as well as from people we saw at Mass every Sunday. Little by little we made ourselves at home here, but still something was lacking.

Food is the main tool I have used to bridge the gap between my southern upbringing and my life as a transplanted “Yankee”. (I know that there are those of you who will say that Marylanders are not Yankees but one of my father’s first comments after being told we were expecting his first grandchild was, “Damn, a Yankee grandchild!”) At my first job in Bethesda, I became the go-to person for desserts. I would surreptitiously find out the favorite cake or pie of my co-workers and bring it in on their birthdays. Eventually, I had people making special requests: red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, carrot cake with coconut-pecan frosting, Mississippi mud cake, Italian cream cake, Louisiana bread pudding with hard sauce, German chocolate cake, peanut butter fudge, chocolate pecan pie, mini-cheesecakes, triple fudge brownies—these are all tried and true favorites in my trusty three-ring binder of dessert recipes.

In the south we have a tradition of bringing a hot meal to a family whenever they are in need: the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, recovering from surgery, moving into a new home, etc. Now, I know that this tradition is not exclusive to the south, and I myself have been the recipient of such kindness over the years here in Maryland. When we purchased our first home and moved in, the lady who was our home day care provider, almost like family to us, prepared a casserole of chicken cordon bleu for our first night in our new house. Yes, we ate it sitting on the floor gathered around the coffee table in the den, off of paper plates, surrounded by boxes and moving crates, but it was absolutely delicious and so appreciated. When I had the shingles in 2006, a good friend showed up at my door with a tray of Italian doughnuts: fried dough, piping hot and covered in sugar. If you haven’t experienced shingles (lucky you) you can’t even imagine how wonderful and comforting that tray of fried dough was—pure heaven. A year later, when my mom passed away, another dear friend dropped off a large container of her famous chicken salad with grapes, a platter of croissants, and a dessert. We had several great meals from that delivery, and while not strictly speaking a hot meal, one of the blessings of having a croissant stuffed with yummy chicken salad for dinner is that there are virtually no dishes to wash after.

For several years I made a large pan of lasagna to bring to friends. It seemed like the perfect meal: lasagna, garlic bread, and a salad. Now, I married an Italian and I love to eat at Italian restaurants, but otherwise I have no direct ties to that cuisine. I’m not even sure I like my lasagna so why was I cooking it for friends? Then, I switched to roasted Cornish hens on a bed of wild rice, a lovely meal, but surprisingly even people who love chicken are not a fan of the miniature gamy birds. Finally, it hit me—why not cook from my own roots? A pan of chicken jambalaya, a salad, and a baguette make a wonderful dinner, easy to transport and easy to reheat by the serving in the microwave. turkey and sausage gumboI recently took dinner to a friend who was recovering from surgery, offering a big pot of chicken and sausage gumbo, potato salad, rice for the gumbo, and triple fudge brownies for her kids.

fire king tulip mixing bowl

Fire King Tulip Mixing Bowl (set of three), vintage (mid-1950’s). Source for photograph: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/32228953556014519/

Although I am completely happy with my current gumbo recipe, my potato salad is still an issue. I mean, technically it’s fine—homemade and well-prepared—but, I am trying to recreate the potato salad of my childhood, so fine won’t cut it. My mom was the go-to person for potato salad, not only in my family, but in my entire hometown. She made it for family get-togethers at my aunt’s house. She was always assigned it when the sodality ladies in my hometown church parish prepared food for a funeral reception. My dad would peel the potatoes for her, a whole 10-pound bag at a time, using a paring knife, never a vegetable peeler. He had learned this in the Army he said, and there was very little potato on those long spirals of peel that would collect on the spread-out newspaper as he worked. French chefs are judged on the amount of potato left on the peel, and he would have passed that course with flying colors. After the potatoes were cubed and boiled, she would mix up her dressing (mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, some of the juice from the pickle relish jar, and vinegar) and pile it up in a white mixing bowl with tulips painted on the sides. I loved that bowl and always thought I would end up with it, but sadly Katrina got it instead.

I’ve tried many different recipes over the years. I’ve gone with every potato that can be purchased in a normal grocery store: russet potatoes, red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, etc. For a while, I only made German potato salad with the theory that if I couldn’t get mine to taste like my mom’s, then I would go completely out of the box and make something so totally different that any comparison would be moot. My husband wasn’t a fan, and he is particularly sensitive to potato salad where the potatoes aren’t cooked just right. So, I just gave up. I stopped making potato salad altogether. I never order it when eating out because it often has chopped boiled eggs in it, and that is the one thing (other than lychee nuts) that I absolutely can’t eat. I’m not allergic or anything, I just don’t like eggs, unless of course they are beaten up into a cake or pie or pudding or something else yummy.

After my father’s funeral in May, we all went back to my brother Tommy’s house for a family meal. My brother John Roy brought potato salad. I had asked specifically that he not put boiled eggs in it, and he obliged even though he prefers it that way. I took one bite and I was instantly transported to my mother’s table. There it was right in front of me. I asked him for the recipe and he just laughed (this is common in Louisiana).” There is no recipe,” he said, “it’s just potato salad.”  But, as always, I persisted, and so he gave me the basics and I vowed to try again.

When I made the gumbo dinner for my friend in June, I tied on my favorite apron and tried again with a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes, per my brother’s instructions. Yes, it was better—closer to my mom’s but nowhere near as good as my brother’s. I had even texted him several times while shopping for the ingredients to be sure I had it in my mind correctly, but still no dice. So, I’m not there yet. The elusive potato salad quest continues.

Bringing food to a good friend in need is an old southern tradition that I dearly love, both on the giving and receiving ends. “Can I bring you dinner?” just rolls out of my mouth the minute a friend shares difficult news with me. What better way to bring comfort to a friend other than a delivery of comforting food, regardless of the cuisine, recipe, or technical quality of the dish? Having a hot meal or a sandwich stuffed with a delicious homemade chicken salad in your own home prepared with care by someone who loves you is more than just a relief after a difficult day; it’s a reminder that home follows us, wherever we go, whatever we go through. And, as Dorothy says at the end of that timeless classic, “There’s no place like home.”

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I’ve told you about mine; now it’s your turn! What’s your go-to comfort food or favorite meal to share? Comment below!

Here’s a few recipes to get you started in this ageless southern tradition!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients for gumbo

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, green and white parts, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Meat (dark and white) from one whole chicken (see below)
  • 1 pound cooked andouille or smoked sausage, sliced into 1-inch disks
  • 3 quarts chicken stock or water (see below)
  • 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2-3 tsp of Lea & Perrin
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked long-grain rice, warmed
  • 1 bunch of parsley (Italian flat-leaf if possible), finely chopped
  • Filé powder (optional)

Ingredients for homemade chicken stock:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 large yellow onion

Directions for homemade chicken stock and chicken meat for gumbo:

  • Unwrap and rinse chicken, removing inner bag of chicken parts. Place whole chicken in large stock pot, including the neck from the inner bag. (Discard the rest of the chicken parts unless you want to fry up the chicken liver as a cook’s treat!)
  • In the stock pot with the chicken add
    • One large yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
    • Two large carrots (cleaned and scraped)
    • One large leek (sliced lengthwise almost to the root and rinsed carefully between the layers to get rid of dirt)
    • Two stalks of celery, rinsed clean, cut into halves
    • One head of garlic (no need to peel).
    • Fill pot with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for one hour or until chicken is completely cooked through to 165 degrees.
    • Remove chicken carefully and set aside to cool. Using a spider or strainer, remove the vegetables and set aside. These veggies will not be used in the gumbo but are still very tasty! (The head of garlic is delicious squeezed out and eaten on bread or mixed into mashed potatoes!)
    • Strain chicken stock and reserve for use in the gumbo. Freeze any unused stock for future use.
    • Strip all meat from chicken and tear or cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
    • In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat the andouille or sausage to remove excess fat. Drain on paper towels, and set aside with chicken meat.

Directions for gumbo:

  • While you are cooking the chicken and making the chicken stock, make a roux.
    • In a large saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, whisk together the oil and flour and cook, stirring constantly with whisk or wooden spoon, to make as dark a roux as you can without burning it. (The heat can be higher, but you must stir more assiduously to avoid burning it.) Be careful! A hot roux is as hot as caramel!
  • When the roux is medium-dark, reduce the heat to low and add the onion, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, and celery. Cook them in the roux until the onions are clear and have begun to brown a little, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming from the roux. Add the chicken meat and sliced sausage to the pot, along with the salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, bay leaves, Lea & Perrin sauce, and thyme.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately reduce to low. Cook uncovered on low for about an hour. While it’s simmering, occasionally skim fat and foamy material from the surface.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer the gumbo, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 hours (it improves with time).
  • Remove and discard the bay leaves.
  • Check seasonings and adjust to taste.
  • Just before serving, add chopped parsley. Stir well and serve.
  • To serve, put about 1/2 cup of fluffy cooked rice in individual bowls and top with about 1 cup of the gumbo. Sprinkle with filé powder, if desired.

Gumbo recipe adapted from Washington Post food section, November 20, 2005, and from Blanchard/Songy family recipes.

Triple Fudge Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate
  • ¾ cup unsalted sweet butter (1 and ½ sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (see note)
  • 1 tub of dark chocolate frosting

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large plastic or glass bowl, microwave chocolate squares and butter on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Stir in the sugar, the pinch of kosher salt, and espresso powder. Mix well.
  • Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  • Add flour and chocolate chips; stir until well blended.
  • Spread into foil-lined 13x9x2 inch pan that has been greased (spray foil with Pam).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Do not over-bake. Allow to partially cool.
  • Open tub of frosting and remove the foil inner lid. Be sure to get all of the foil off of the rim. Microwave for 10 seconds and stir. Microwave again for 10 seconds and stir again. You are looking for a pouring consistency.
  • Pour frosting on top of warm brownies and set aside. Cool completely in pan or refrigerate for frosting to “set”.
  • Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into 24 squares (6×4 rows). Cover tightly and store at room temperature.

Ghirardelli'sNote: if you want the chocolate chips to melt into the brownie rather than stay whole, do not use Nestle’s Toll House brand as they are specially formulated to retain their shape even when baked. To have the chips melt more into the brownie, use Ghirardelli’s chips.

Brownie recipe adapted from the side of the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate box: Baker’s One Bowl Brownies