Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh no...Chocolate Craving!

I LOVE "Hobby Farm Home" Magazine. Do I have a farm? No.
It doesn't matter. They have some of the best articles and wonderful recipes. I finally bought some unsweetened cocoa last weekend, and thank goodness I did. I'm having a chocolate craving today...
In the most recent HFH (Jan/Feb 2010) they have this great recipe for "Homemade Cookie & Brownie Mix". I WAS going to make the mix to have on hand for when I want brownies.
The flaw in that plan: I ALWAYS WANT BROWNIES!

One of my favorite things about this current issue of HFH is that they had "make more of your own food" in one of the articles about the new year. This magazine is right on target with what I'm doing; making more of my own foods not only because they taste better and I have control of what goes in them, but also it helps reduce household trash and in general helps reduce my carbon footprint.
More on that later, but now, BROWNIES!

According to HFH, a "typical package at the store (brownie/cookie mix) which yields about a dozen brownies, costs about $2.80. The following mix costs about $2.06 and makes enough for TWO batches of one dozen brownies or six dozen cookies". (caps added by me. More brownies, less money- awesome!)*

2 C. Sugar
1 C. Flour
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 C. Solid Vegetable Shortening

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Personal Note: You could probably also use a food processor, but I did it "old school" and used butter knives. Good arm workout too! You'll probably have to switch hands while you're doing it- mine started cramping, but I told myself that I need that arm workout to firm up my muscles since there will be a new layer of fat on them after eating all the brownies.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Ok, yeah...right...
I didn't even get to the "storing" part. (cut to me blushing)
In fact, I just moved on to part 2, the actual brownie recipe, and doubled it- I made the whole batch of mix. Bad, bad, bad! But good! Hey, I deserve it! (or so I tell myself)

Here is the brownie recipe for those, like me, who have NO self-control (and aren't afraid to admit it)


2 1/4 C of the homemade brownie mix, well-packed
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla **see my note after recipoe
1/2 C. choppped nuts (optional)

Mix first three ingredients to form smooth batter, add nuts if desired. Spread in greased 9 inch square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted off center comes out clean.
Makes 1 dozen.

...unless you're me and you are using a huge pan and dumping the whole darn bowl of mix into it.
Come on, really? Who can store half of it? I dare ya', try it. I guarantee that if you DO manage to use 1/2 the mix and store the other half, you'll be making that other 1/2 the next day, or at the very least, within a few days.

Since I used my whole batch of mix on brownies (oops...) I don't have any to try the cookie recipe that goes with the mix. Here it is in case any of you make it past the brownie stage of the thing.

2 1/4 C homemade cookie mix
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 C. water
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 C. Flour
18 walnuts or pecans, halved (optional)

Combine ingredients. Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. If desired, place half a walnut or pecan in the center of each.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen.

What I especially love about these recipes is that if you can make the mix and fight off the urge to make ALL brownies with it, you get a dozen brownies AND 3 dozen cookies out of it. Variety is the spice of life, but today is a brownie kind of day.

I'm off to lick brownie batter out of a giant bowl, and I'm not too shy to admit it.

Happy baking, chocoholics!

*source, Hobby Farm Home January/February 2010, pg. 16

**Note on Vanilla: I make my own and have been for years. I can't remember the last time I bought it at a grocery store. It's a very simple recipe. Acually I can't even call it a recipe. You hardly have to do anything, but you get the most amazing vanilla ever. Keep in mind, it doesn't happen overnight. I let my vanilla "brew", steep, what have you, for at least 6-8 weeks. So if you want to make your own vanilla, you have to plan ahead. When you start using it, if you want to keep using homemade vanilla, you also have to start brewing the next batch before you run out of your current one. Just a couple things you need to remember but that are super important if you're serious about not buying it (like I am). I do NOT add any sweetener to the recipe as mentioned in the recipe. I don't like to mess with the sugar contents in my recipes, even just a little bit with the vanilla. I like it to be as pure as possible, also I prefer it darker, that's why I let it age for almost two months. Again, as Alton Brown says "your rewarded!"
Try it. Once you do, I bet you won't want to buy it at the grocery anymore! Plus, you have an excuse to keep a big bottle of vodka in your house. It's also good for those Sunday Brunch mimosas-but be sure to save some for your vanilla!
If anyone is curious about the savings of making vanilla yourself, in my experience it does save you a lot of money. I've made ONE bottle (large bottle) and it's lasted over a year and a half. I find I can also use less of it in recipes because mine is so strong. When you let it go for 8 weeks and see how concentrated the vanilla flavor can become, you'll also realize how WEAK the grocery store brands are. I've found I use 1/2 the amount of my vanilla compared to store-bought varieties.
Give it a try. It's yummy.
Here's a good site to help you make it:
Vanilla Extract Recipe


  1. I am so happy you joined the Friday Follow blog hop. I know I visited your blog when you put it up not sure why I didn't follow then. Looking forward to reading your updates.

    PS Indiana and Davinia send their love.

  2. I'm from Friday Follow! Please follow my blog! Happy Friday! Have a great day!

  3. I can't believe you make your own vanilla! I definitely have to try this!

    New follower from "Friday Follow"!

    Have a great day!

  4. I'm going to sit down tonight and do the blog hop! Hope to follow tons of new blogs. So fun!
    Shelley: Omg, you'll be hooked. It blows away store-bought. No comparison, honestly! : )
    Felissa, best idea ever! Kiss Davinia for me, hope she's feeing better everyday. Love to Indiana too of course!
    You can tell them the DOG TREAT recipies will be up by tonight! :) yay!

  5. Davinia would love the dog treats. Indiana has a really bad upset tummy right now so no treats for her. I have seen the puppy popper recipe before and never made it but I am feeling inspired to doggy bake. Made the girls some homemade boiled mashed sweet potatoes yesterday. So glad you like the Friday Follow.