CHEW THIS! Lunch Lady Brownies

Lunch Lady Brownies


The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 5th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A Nostalgic Cafeteria Classic
Blaise Doubman

I have always been one to be interested in the latest “food trends”. I’m sure that you have noticed them as well because they make their way from the hippest restaurants, then on your favorite food program, then in magazines, newspapers, and then everywhere online. In the 1980’s it was Jello molds. Sweet Jello molds, savory Jello molds, everywhere you look there was another Jello mold. In the 1990’s it was casseroles. How many different versions of a “Tuna Noodle Casserole” does a person really need? Me? I could use them all – I love and collect casserole recipes, but that is a story for a different time and place. A few years ago the big trend was sneaking “healthy” foods such as carrots, spinach, broccoli, zucchini and squash into your children’s favorite meals. I have a recipe for chocolate cake that includes spinach, broccoli and Lima beans… I have never tried it and I refuse to. If that is the only way you can incorporate “healthy” foods into your children’s diets – good for you! Hope they do not find out…

The latest trend, one that I am much more excited and enthusiastic about, is “Cafeteria Classics”. Food that you may remember from your school lunch room. The “Lunch Lady” recipes! They are everywhere you look online and popping up on dessert menus across the United States. Some of my favorite school time lunch foods were pizza, soft pretzels, no bake cookies, peanut butter and chocolate squares, french fries, yeast rolls and brownies. I remember them vividly and am actually in the process of recreating the yeast rolls and pizza – but my latest recipe development are the infamous lunch lady brownies! They are delicious and exactly like I remember from school. Hopefully you will give these a try and walk with me down memory lane. Dedicated to all of the food service workers in schools across Indiana!

Lunch Lady Brownies

It is very important to frost these brownies while they are still warm. Wait 10-15 minutes after you remove them from the oven and spread on the frosting! It is also very important that these are placed in the refrigerator right after frosting so that they can set up properly. The result is a dense and thick flavorful brownie.

For the brownies…

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups white granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups white all-purpose flour

For the frosting…

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup milk
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Start by making the brownies. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with a non-stick baking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the melted unsalted butter, white granualted sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder. The mixture should be combined but grainy in texture.

Next, beat in the pure vanilla extract, instant coffee granules and salt.

Add in the large eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should turn into a smooth and glossy batter. This is desirable.

Finally, fold in the white all-purpose flour, being careful not to over mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Place in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes.

While the brownies are baking, go ahead and start on the frosting. These brownies need to be frosted while they are still fairly warm.

To make the frosting, combine the melted unsalted butter, milk and unsweetened cocoa powder in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Add in the confectioner’s sugar, little at a time, before adding in the vanilla extract and salt. Whip to desired consistency. The perfect consistency is a thick spreadable frosting that gently resembles slightly melted ice cream.

Once the brownies have baked, remove them from the oven and allow to stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, generously frost them with the chocolate frosting. Place frosted brownies into the refrigerator to cool and set up completely.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and cut. Serve and enjoy.

Ask and Answer: I have had a few people write to me and ask my thoughts on the latest find in your grocery store’s freezer section – riced cauliflower. I love cauliflower and find that the newest “riced” version is basically a pantry staple that everyone should have on hand! Use riced cauliflower in stir-fry’s, vegetable bakes and substituted for potatoes. My favorite use would be pizza crust made from the vegetable. Simply prepare the riced cauliflower, squeeze all moisture from the vegetable by wrapping and twisting in a kitchen towel, place in large bowl with 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice, salt, garlic powder and 2 large eggs. Transfer to a baking sheet, spread into a circle and bake in 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Add whatever toppings you desire, place back in the oven for 10 minutes and – you have an instant (and healthy) pizza!


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