The rich chocolate flavor of these cakelike brownies definitely qualifies them as timeless classics. Plus, they’re practically foolproof, a fact appreciated by generations of cooks.
Such is the description in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies Magazine from 2002. The exact same recipe can be found in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, copyright 1989. The recipe is probably at least as old as I am. Tried and true!
A friend of mine also uses a nearly identical recipe, which she got from her grandmother, but hers is called Chocolate Sheet Cake. It also calls for buttermilk and the batter is prepared in the same way as in the recipe here.
Whether you call these cake or brownies, they are simply perfect. Every time you make them. And they are quickly gobbled up. They are moist and cake-y and chocolate-y and just the right amount of gooey with their fudgy icing.
My daughter requests these brownies as her birthday cake. They are that good. Now, because I am obsessed with baking, I do feel a little guilty presenting these on her special day because they are so easy and quick to make.
These are made a little differently than other cakes and brownies. It even seems pretty weird – boiling up butter, cocoa powder and water. But that’s the secret to making these so rich, moist and chocolate-y.
Put the butter, cocoa powder and water into a medium-sized saucepan. It looks weird, I know!After you bring the mixture to a boil, it looks like this. It looks and smells chocolately already.The perfect Buttermilk Brownie batter. We like it runny.For the Chocolate-Buttermilk Icing, bring butter, cocoa powder and buttermilk to a boil. This time it looks greasy and gloppy. Don’t worry, we like it like that.See? The Chocolate-Buttermilk Icing turned out perfectly.
- 2 cups (280 g) flour
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (225 g) butter
- ⅓ cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 ½ packets vanilla sugar
- ¼ cup (60 g) butter
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 ¼ cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ packet vanilla sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 13x9x2-inch (25x38x4 cm) baking pan. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and water. Bring the mixture just to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture. Beat with mixer on medium speed until combined. Scrape bowl and add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. Beat for one minute on medium speed. The batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center of brownies comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Begin making the chocolate-buttermilk icing immediately when the brownies are done baking. Place the powdered sugar into the bowl of your mixer. In a medium saucepan bring butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and buttermilk to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. This mixture will seem oily and separated but that's normal. Remove from heat and pour chocolate mixture over powdered sugar and add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. Beat until smooth, scraping bowl once. Working quickly, distribute the icing over the warm brownies and then spread the icing evenly.
- Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack and cover and chill them in the refrigerator before cutting. Keep brownies covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.