The year that I sent my daughter to school with strawberry shortcakes on her birthday will probably go down as the worst.
She's always been a strawberry girl, drawn to both the fresh-picked, tiny sweet ones and the large, often less flavorful ones we find at the market. Ages ago, she came across a fun fact that strawberries were the only fruit that had seeds on the outside, and it became one of her favorite stories to tell for a while. She's also huge fan of all things bready, and biscuits fit beautifully in that category. And fresh whipped cream? It's got her name all over it. My mother made strawberry shortcakes for her one day and she was smitten.
So that year for her 5th birthday, I made strawberry shortcakes - at her request - for her in-school celebration. The kids hated them! Okay, hate is definitely too strong, but I learned that kids have expectations for classroom birthdays and strawberry shortcakes didn't make the cut. That's a whole other topic, and I'd love to discuss it but I'm all about the birthday dessert today. Anyway, we had a lot left over that year, which no one here complained about.
From then on, my kids have requested more traditional things for school, like cupcakes or cookies. Works for me. At some point, they'll stop asking for homemade desserts for school birthdays, so I'm happy to comply annually until then. This year, my newly minted 12 year old asked if I could please make brownies for school. Brownies were definitely not going to be panned. Who doesn't love brownies? I *love* them. An extra batch of brownies doesn't stay around for long, and making them is easy and fun.
The recipe that I've been loving lately is adapted from Smitten Kitchen. The brownies are dark, rich, chocolatey and not too sweet, and definitely not cakey. I made four batches in two days, sending off three to school and saving one for us. I've replaced the AP flour with oat flour, making these gluten free, and I've reduced both the sugar and the cocoa powder. I also found that they needed a bit more time to cook, so I've reflected that in this recipe (scroll down).
Here's how easy they are to make (as opposed to strawberry shortcakes, which took me way longer, and were much more labor intensive). It's just 7 ingredients and 6 steps --- take a look:
1. First mix the butter and sugar.
2. Add cocoa powder and stir to combine.
3. Add salt.
4. Add eggs and vanilla.
5. Add oat flour and give it one final stir.
6. Ready to bake! Place in a parchment lined pan in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25-28 minutes.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaked salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, cold
- 1/2 cup oat flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or grease with avocado oil or butter.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt and stir until all lumps are gone. Stir in vanilla, eggs and oat flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and thick. Spread evenly into the pan.
Bake for approximately 25-28 minutes or until the brownies have set and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into 16 or 25 squares and watch them disappear.