First things first, double the recipe. Then another single batch off to the side for whatever Sophie’s doing this week, gluten free or vegan or no-nuts or lots of nuts or whatever. Nutty, is what it is.
‘Smear the inside of the pan with shortening.’ Make Hardison do this, and not shortening, that crap’s terrible for you. There are some heart-healthy oils that’ll do the trick.
‘Melt the butter over a low heat. Watch it. It’s easy to burn.’ Parker can handle this part, but make sure to tell her that if she lets the butter burn on purpose, she’s not getting any brownies today. We’re not doing this again.
‘In your mixing bowl, stir the cocoa and sugar together. Then stir in the melted butter.” Shake in some brown sugar too, and a dash of nutmeg in Sophie’s batch. Over-fill the measurements a bit in preparation for the next step.
At this point, let each of the assistant chefs ONE (1) finger-dip of mix to eat. Emphasize that this is all they get! After the egg is added, you’ll be defending the bowl with your knives.
‘Add the eggs and vanilla and stir again.’ Have Parker crack and whisk the eggs in a separate bowl in case it ends up on fire again. Ignore her crooning about murder, it’s really not worth it to try and get her to stop. A little extra vanilla doesn’t hurt, but don’t let Hardison see, because he’ll start saying you’re extra sweet, because he’s an idiot. Vanilla isn’t ‘sweet.’ It’s a very distinctive flavor.
‘Now add the flour and salt and mix until it’s smooth.’ DO NOT let Parker get near the flour. Or the salt, for that matter. Have her pre-heat the oven. Have Hardison supervise. It’s worth it at this point to let them put music on, because they’ll argue about that instead of ruining your bake. If you’re in a rush, add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and slick up another pan to spread it all out in.
‘If you’re adding walnuts, now’s the time.’ Sophie’s can have walnuts, or cacao nibs if that's what she's on this week. But the regular batches get a full bag of chocolate chips, semi-sweet. If there are open bags of milk or dark chocolate, that works too.
‘Scrape the mixture out into the greased pan and spread out in an even layer.’ Do this yourself, no matter how much they complain, because this is supposed to end up in the oven, not on the kitchen appliances and on peoples’ bodies.
‘Bake in a 350-degree oven until the brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, or until you can stick a toothpick in and pull it out with no batter sticking to it. Takes about 40 to 50 minutes.’ Very funny. Knock that sucker to 275 and take the kids out for lunch. It’ll be at least three hours if you want the inside to be cooked through, but still rich and moist. If possible, assign Sophie to sit in the kitchen and do her nails or whatever and make sure no one tries to steal half-cooked brownies right out of the oven, again.
Nate and Sophie can do dish and clean-up. They get flirty when they do, so stay out of the way. Maybe get Hardison to rig up a camera for blackmail purposes.
‘The hardest part. Let cool for a while before cutting.’ Knives, bribery, and prayer might get you through this step.
Dish ‘em up with large glasses of cold milk (or almond milk, or rice milk). Accept gratitude. Keep your fork in your hand for when Parker tries to go for your share.
Repeat next weekend.