My friend Jayna doesn't like cake, unless it's from a mix. And Mark, my wonderful husband, who is a total food snob (I mean it in the best way, darling!), secretly loves frozen Sara Lee pound cake. (He says he likes mine better, but I kind of think that's like when a man says, "No, I only like SMALL breasts, I don't even like big ones!" Uh huh.)
Ahem. Anyway -- we all know someone out there who prefers the boxed stuff to homemade, right? If you know someone who prefers brownies from a mix, have I got a recipe for you.
I stumbled upon this one when I was getting ready to make brownies for my book club and then realized I didn't have enough butter. WHAT?? On my slowest days I have at least 2 or 3 lbs. of butter in the freezer, but at that particular moment, I found myself without enough. So I had to look online to see if there were any recipes that -- gasp! -- used oil instead. Of course there were, so I gave one a try.
These weren't the best brownies I ever had, but they did the job -- certainly a passably good brownie, and everyone gobbled them up. These would be perfect if you needed a dairy free recipe. I've made brownies with just cocoa before (no chocolate) -- these were not as decadent and creamy as those. These reminded me of Duncan Hines, but richer, and without the weird chemical-y after taste.
Easy cocoa brownies
Slightly adapted from All Recipes
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-by-8-inch square pan with foil; mist foil with cooking spray.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt; mix with a fork. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Stir in cocoa mixture until combined, then beat for a few strokes. Transfer batter to baking pan and spread evenly.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until just beginning to set and edges begin to pull away from sides. Place on a wire rack to cool. (Note: Once they were cool, I covered and refrigerated the brownies in the pan overnight, and cut them in the morning. I find doing that gives me much cleaner slices.)