Christmas is just two weeks away! If you love brownies and plan on doing some baking this season, keep these tips in mind:

  • Good ingredients don’t have to be expensive. You now have access to higher-quality ingredients at your nearest supermarket, but don’t let that discourage you from experimenting with specialty ingredients.
  • Measure! While you can adjust seasonings while cooking, baking requires a more precise approach since you can't add sugar or baking soda to your dessert once it's in the oven.
  • Stir only until the mixture is just blended! There's no need to mix it more than necessary and create gluten.
  • Test for doneness before the time runs out. Ovens and recipes alike are notoriously unreliable, so when you're experimenting with a new recipe, check your baked goodies before the recipes says it is time so you’re sure you don’t over bake it.
  • And remember: baked goods will continue to cook even after removing from the oven.

Happy baking!

Cocoa Brownies
Makes 16 brownies
Takes 35 minutes plus cooling

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄3 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8” by 8” metal baking pan. On waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
2. Melt butter on low in a three-quart saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat; with spatula, stir in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan; sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using.
3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in brownies two inches from center comes out almost clean. Cool brownies completely in pan on wire rack, about two hours.
4 When cool, cut brownies into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into four squares.

(Photograph by Kate Mathis. Photograph and recipe reprinted from US Good Housekeeping)

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