Cookin’ with Condley
Published 2:50 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023
By Sarah Condley
When I received the January-February 2023 issue of Southern Living Magazine, I started looking through it, and when I saw a recipe for brownies baked in a cast-iron skillet, I knew I wanted to give them a try. Even though I’m not too fond of chocolate, everyone in our family is. So, when it came time for us to plan our next visit with one of our kids in Lexington, I didn’t have to think twice about what dessert I’d be taking to their house.
However, I had to go to the grocery to purchase Dutch cocoa. After searching the small chocolate section in the baking aisle and seeing nothing labeled Dutch cocoa, I reached for a Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa container. In tiny letters under Special Dark were the words “Dutched Cocoa. “ I put the container in the grocery cart and continued my trek around the store.
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The evening before we were headed for a visit with Owen, one of our grandsons, I baked the brownies.
I pulled out one of my grandmother’s cast-iron skillets from the cabinet, slathered the inside with butter, sat it aside on the counter, and turned the oven to preheat.
The butter and canola oil went into the microwave on 50% power to melt the butter. After two minutes of waiting and watching, the butter had not begun to melt, and I told Brad, “Our microwave might be broken.” Since I’m impatient, I tried heating the mixture on regular power, and the butter melted in no time and the oil was warm. And Brad was glad to know our microwave had not bitten the dust.
I didn’t have 60% – 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips, but I did have a couple of 72% dark chocolate bars. After chopping them up, I added 1/2 cup of the chocolate chunks to the warm mixture and stirred until the chocolate melted and the batter was smooth. I added both sugars, the vanilla, and the room-temperature eggs and used a whisk to combine them. You use room temp eggs because they blend more evenly in batters and help the dough rise more easily than cold eggs. Also, cold eggs can result in lumpy batter, a heavy texture, and require longer baking times – and nobody want’s that. Instead of dumping each dry ingredient into the liquid brownie mixture, I put them in a separate bowl and combined, poured those dry ingredients into the large batter-filled bowl, and then gently stirred in the rest of the chopped-up chocolate bar.
After filling the skillet with the brownie batter, I put it in the oven to bake. I asked Brad if he preferred fudgy brownies or chewy brownies, and he said “Chewy,” so I set the timer for 40 minutes.
The brownies smelled good, so I went to the kitchen to check on them. They looked done to me, so I pulled them from the oven and set the skillet on a cooling rack. The total time they cooked was 38 minutes.
Before going to bed, I checked on the brownies and was disappointed to see that they had fallen. Oh well, I hoped they would taste good. I went to bed wondering why they fell like the last two cakes I’ve made had done; maybe I’ve lost my touch.
The following day I checked the brownies, and they were still “fallen.” I ran a knife around the outer edge to make sure they would come loose from the pan – which they did, and I covered the pan with foil.
That evening after a fun visit with family, we sat down at the table for supper. We all joined hands, and Brad blessed the food and thanked God for family and food. After finishing off the chili Brad made for the meal it was time to taste the brownies.
Brad got the first piece, and then our daughter and son-in-law took a piece. They all said the flavor was excellent, but we wondered why they had fallen again. Michael, our son-in-law, asked if the oven might have been too hot, and I told him I’d check when I got home.
Though not a complete failure because the flavor was good, I’ll have to say my attempt at this recipe Failed It since it if fell flat. I will, however, give it one more try before deciding if it will be added to my self-made cookbook.
When I looked closely at the pictures that accompanied the recipe in the magazine, it did look like theirs looked just like mine. Still, they had dressed up each of their attempts with lots of different things sprinkled on after baking: white chocolate and strawberries, coconut, almonds and hot fudge, peanut and pretzels, and salted caramel S’mores. If you want to try this recipe and jazz yours up by adding some of the other ingredients, I’m sure you can go online and find the recipes at Southern Living.
Deep-Dish Skillet Brownies
• 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for skillet
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 1 1/4 cups 60% to 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• Ice Cream (Optional)
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet with butter.
• Place butter and oil in a large microwavable bowl; microwave on Medium (50% power) until butter melts and mixture is warm, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips until melted and smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs until combined and smooth. Fold in flour, cocoa, kosher salt, and baking soda until just combined.
• Stir in remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared skillet.
• Bake in preheated oven until edges are puffed and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out mostly clean, about 32 minutes for fudgy brownies and up to 40 minutes for chewier brownies. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 1 hour before serving. Top with ice cream if desired.