Making brownies from scratch is easy and fast, so I’ve always been perplexed as to why so many people think they need to use a box mix. I know I’ve said this many times before on this blog — remember my macaroni and cheese, pudding and pancake rants? — but before you resign yourself to a lifetime of box-mix brownies, just try making some from scratch first. You’ll see that they don’t take much more time and taste far better than the premixed variety. I’m not kidding. They are SO much better. Plus they’re also free of preservatives and hydrogenated fats. And, if you disagree, you can write a comment telling me I’m wrong and then just go smugly back to the box.

I admit you’ll need to melt some chocolate, but don’t let this stop you. Usually I use semisweet Scharffenberger, but as an experiment, I tried my recipe with chocolate chips instead. I did this because I have been told by some people (I’m not naming names, but you know who you are) that if they have to buy a “special” ingredient, they just pass on a recipe (not that semisweet Scharffenberger should be a special ingredient. As far as I’m concerned, it should be a staple in the pantry).

Another plus to using chocolate chips is that you can melt them with the butter in a microwave instead of on the stove. I tried to do this in an attempt to make this recipe even less demanding (because let’s face it; it’s not exactly fair for me to say ditch the box mix and then ask you to get out a double boiler), but then my microwave literally caught on fire. Yes. As I melted the chocolate and butter in a Pyrex dish, flames started shooting inside the microwave. It was a cheap one, bought at Costco around 6 years ago, so I figure it was simply it’s time to go. It meant, however, that I had to simmer some water in a pot and then place a metal bowl with my chocolate and butter on top to melt (which, honestly, didn’t take much time).

Following is my recipe. It’s pretty straightforward and quick, uses chocolate chips, and doesn’t require a double boiler if your microwave doesn’t catch on fire. So get out your flour, chocolate and butter and experience firsthand the decadent delight of easy homemade brownies.

pan of brownies


Makes: One 9×12 pan of brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt together the butter and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (either in the microwave or in a medium bowl over simmering water. If using the microwave, heat for 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Stir and then heat another 30 seconds. Continue until everything is melted). Allow the chocolate and butter mixture to sit in a bowl on the counter.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs into the sugar and vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, stirring until just barely combined.

6. Add in the melted chocolate, butter and walnuts (if using). Mix until just combined. Finally, add in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and stir.

7. Butter and flour a 9 x 12 pan and then pour the batter in. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a clean toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Be sure not to overbake. If you want your brownies on the chewy side, underbake by around 5 minutes.

8. Cool and serve.

Resist the Box: Brownies 19 August,2010Denise Santoro Lincoln

  • Stephanie Rosenbaum

    If I wanted to use regular semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate instead of chips, how many ounces would I need? Also, do you have a preferred chip brand? Nestle is way too sweet & bland for me–so far I think I like Guittard or Ghirardelli’s extra-dark versions best.

  • Hi Stephanie — I usually use 2/3 of a 9.7 ounce Scharffenberger semisweet brick and melt in a bowl over water on the stove with the butter. I’ve made with chocolate chips just the one time and used Nestle b/c my kids love them (they’re all about the extra sweetness). If I were using chips and making for adults, I’d probably go with Guittard.

  • Oh, I forgot to mention that I then break up the rest of the Scharffenberger brick into small pieces and add to the batter so there are chunks of chocolate that melt into the brownies (much like the recipe calls for adding chocolate chips to the mixed batter).

  • You had me laughing out loud. Nice story behind the recipe. I sometimes feel like my friends and family who do little cooking pass over some recipes I post because I tell them to use a double boiler or other (imo) kitchen essential.
    From your experience, have you found that semisweet chocolate is best for brownies? I often wonder which kind is best in what circumstance. Milk vs dark vs semisweet etc.

  • Denise Lincoln

    Hi Rachel – Glad you liked the story! My kids like semisweet, so I’ve used that for a while now. I do sometimes use bittersweet, however, as I love the flavor and so sometimes use that instead.

  • I have found that when selecting chocolate for brownies that Nestle is too sweet and Ghirardelli’s is too bitter. I will try the Scharffenberger semi-sweet in this recipe to see if I can find a nice balance. Thank you for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it.


Denise Santoro Lincoln

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise’s Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.

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