With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to share a recipe that’s near and dear to our hearts. With that in mind, the recipe that stands out is our Grandma Anson’s Brownies.
Early in our grandparents’ married life, our grandpa worked at a small town grocery store. This brownie recipe was on a grocery store pamphlet that grandpa brought home. Though it’s been adapted slightly over the years, it’s been a closely held family secret. Don’t tell anyone that we told you. 🙂
Seriously though, this brownie recipe is the ONLY brownie recipe used by our entire extended family. That may not make much of an impression right now but let me explain what I mean when I say the “entire” family. Actually it might be best if I just show you…
This is the Anson family…our grandparents and all 18 of their children. (That’s our mom on the top left.) Yes, Grandma gave birth to all of them. All of them single births, no twins. This picture was taken in the late 1960s, and it hangs on the wall in our grandparents’ house to this day. Some things have changed. Our grandpa has passed (We miss him so!), and all of these kids are all grown up. Most have kids and grandkids of their own. So, we have more than 50 first cousins on this side of the family and have honestly lost count of how many second cousins. (If there is an Anson family member reading this, somebody get a headcount!)
You’d think with a family this size, we’d be out of touch with one another, but we’ve always been close. As kids, we traveled to Grandma and Grandpa’s house every Sunday. Everyone came! The women would gather in the kitchen to cook and cackle…you could hear their laughter all over the house. The men played cards or stood outside shooting the bull. We kids would just play, play, play. On any given Sunday, we literally had enough kids to form two full baseball teams for a game in the field out in front of the house. From long games of hide-and-seek in the dark or serious handstand contests, to covert missions to steal homemade rolls before dinner…the list of wonderful memories at Grandma and Grandpa’s house is endless.
Ever-present in Grandma’s kitchen, you see why these brownies are near and dear to our hearts, a dessert classic passed down to all the kids and grandkids. Aside from that, they taste amazing and have a perfect crusty top and chewy, fudgy center. They’ve ruined all other brownies for us forever. Allow us to share this heirloom recipe with you. You can thank us later.
1 c. vegetable shortening (the Crisco baking stick work well)
2/3 cup + 1T. unsweetened cocoa (we prefer Hershey’s)
4 eggs, very lightly beaten (see hint below)
2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Melt shortening and cocoa together in the top of a double boiler (you can melt this together in a microwave safe dish, though our Mom thinks this is sacrilege). Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Combine lightly beaten eggs and sugar in large mixing bowl. Stir melted cocoa mixture into eggs and sugar. Blend well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not whip). Stir in vanilla.
If you really love nuts you can add some chopped pecans before you bake these brownies. Personally, the four of us don’t understand why anyone would add something from the meat group to chocolate – but, if you’re in a nutty mood, go for it.
Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 baking dish. If you’re a short cut user like we are, use a baking spray with flour. Our Mama says don’t mess with the batter once you’re spread it out or you don’t get the right crusty top.
Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.
Enjoy a really large brownie with some ice cold milk while you ponder why you ever ate brownies from a box.
*Hint #1 – If you’d like to eat these in the slightly overindulgent manner of our grandpa, you can butter the top of a warm brownie before you eat it.
*Hint #2 – We’re serious when we say “very lightly beaten” eggs. If you beat the heck out of these eggs, these brownies become cakey.
*Hint #3 – For our high altitude friends add 1T. butter to the shortening and cocoa mix and an addition 2 T. flour.