brownies for charles

My friend Charles, who lives in Williamsburg VA, has a birthday coming up. i've mentioned him before; he's the one who has sent me kooky gifts over the years including all the miniature booze bottles for made-up holidays. i always try to include some kind of baked good in his goodie box for his birthday, and this year i decided on brownies because i'd never made them for him before (he usually gets something that ships well, like a lemon loaf cake or some other pound cake).

this year's gift box included Wings Across America, the best and cheapest little peeler in the whole world (you can find clear plastic ones at williams sonoma for 3 bucks apiece), and a couple of Georgia products. i found an article about georgia wines and decided to go looking for some; but our upscale liquor store nearby the house only had the habersham winery "scarlett", so i included a bottle of that in his package. i hope the wine is good enough to drink and not just mediocre, although regardless of the taste, he will enjoy the idea of a wine named "scarlett". i also sent him honey from weeks works (they're just north of here in cherokee county), because i like their product. a few months ago when all the food sites were discussing the diminishing bee population and whether or not cell phone signals had anything to do with it, i emailed the good people at weeks works just to get their opinion on the matter. after a few emails back and forth, i was asked if i'd like to keep bees, but i passed on the offer. it's not that we don't have the room in our yard, because we do; it's that i have a very nosy dog, and also as much as i like bees, i'm terrified of them. didn't anyone see The Swarm? that shit scares the crap out of me.

Charles prefers pecans to walnuts, so i included these in the brownies; besides, that kept with the bit of Georgia theme i had going on already. but my next dilemma was that i was unsure which brownie recipe to use. a basic brownie is a basic brownie, whichever cookbook you may use, but i wasn't liking what i saw, so i kind of just wung it a bit with what seemed right. after the brownies had cooled, i cut them into squares and wrapped each individually in plastic wrap and put them in a box. the top brownie i wrapped with ribbon and included a birthday candle, and also a note which read (as i write every year) that he could either share with the other kiddies or go off into a secret corner and eat the whole lot himself.

i hope he will be pleased.

Brownies for Charles
makes 9 square brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped up
2 sticks of butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. line a 9-inch square pan with parchment and lightly coat with spray oil. I use the method that joe pastry describes to line the pan with parchment.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave; run it on high for about a minute, then stir - you might need to go an extra 30 seconds to another minute for this. Set aside. Or you could melt these together in a double boiler, but my preferred method is the microwave. It's pretty much the only thing I use the microwave for.

Beat the eggs and sugars together until well blended and smooth. Add the vanilla, then mix in the chocolate mixture.

Sift together the flour and salt and add to the mix but DO NOT overblend, then stir in the pecans. Pour this into the pan and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes (check at 30 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center). Leave to cool on a rack for 20 to 30 minutes, then remove brownies from pan and cut into 9 even squares.


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