"If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, did it actually made a sound?"
This age-old philosophical question applies perfectly to the recent events of my life and my lack of blog activity. Since my last post, so much has happened to our family. We moved from Oregon to Illinois, Craig started a new job, and we bought our first house. All of these changes have been exciting, challenging, and a long-time coming; however, none of them compare to the biggest change of all...about six months ago, we welcomed our first baby, Lucas, into the world and have been smitten ever since. We are still in that new-parent stage of thinking every little thing he does is totally brilliant, and we spend most of our days now doing whatever crazy antics we can think of to make him laugh. Anything for that laugh.
Needless to say, our world has been rocked in the most unbelievably awesome way, and I am slowly but surely getting used to this stay-at-home mom gig. I will admit the first couple months after Lucas was born, Craig did ALL of the cooking and grocery shopping, and I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for him. Each month since, life with a baby has gotten progressively easier, and planning and cooking meals isn't as overwhelming as it once was. I still can't wrap my head around how parents do it with more than one kid, but hey, I'll get there.
One of the perks of having a baby is that people want to visit. I love that. It has been so fun to host so many family and friends here over the past few months. The best part is the added set of hands for baby wrangling, so I can focus in the kitchen.
These brownies have become my #1 go-to dessert as of late. In my opinion, nothing beats a homemade chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream. Nothing. The obstacle I've always faced in the past is that most brownie recipes called for melting chocolate which always required a quick trip to the store. Not any more. This recipe uses cocoa powder, which I now make a point to pick up every other time I'm at the store. I've actually started applying this method to other staples such as butter, eggs, flour, sugar, oil, etc. I'm not sure if most people already do this or not, but it has been such a last-minute-trip-to-the-store saver for me.
The addition of olive oil came about one night when I was making box brownies (gasp!), and ran out of canola/veg oil. I threw caution to the wind and tried olive oil instead. It was pretty good, but the flavor was a little overpowering for the box mix. It was enough to pique my curiosity, though. I tried the swap again using Alton Brown's cocoa brownie recipe, and finally hit the nail on the head. I love the complexity and decadence the olive oil adds. If you're a little apprehensive about this, try the recipe below with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 stick melted butter. If you feel like living on the edge, go all in. :) The best part about this recipe is that there are no fancy techniques or melting chocolate involved, and you only need a bowl and a whisk. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Olive Oil Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies
Yield: One 8x8 pan, or about 9 brownies
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F (325 F for electric oven)
- Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray, like Pam.
- Optional: Line pan with parchment paper for easy lifting out once the brownies have completely cooled...but seriously, who can wait that long before digging in?
- In a large bowl, briskly whisk the eggs together until blended
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and slowly whisk together until all the the ingredients are incorporated. Small lumps are OK.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan
- Bake for about 35 minutes or just until toothpick tested in the center comes out clean. Don't over-bake!
- Let cool for as long as you can stand it, cut, and enjoy!
- If you're out of cooking spray, you can brush the bottom of the pan with canola/vegetable oil.
- I prefer using a glass baking pan like Pyrex. If you like a crispier edge, use a metal pan.
- You will know the brownies are done when the center puffs up a bit to match the level of the edges. If it still looks a bit concave or deflated in the middle, give it a few more minutes and check again.
- Store these in an airtight container at room temp, and they will stay gooey for several days.
- If the olive oil flavor is a bit too much for you, simply swap it out for canola oil, or 2 sticks melted butter, or 1 stick melted butter + 1/2 cup olive oil. You can play with it until it perfectly suits your taste.