skillet brownies {with a secret ingredient}

The cast iron skillet has to be one of the most fabulous tools one can have in the kitchen. I always feel so rustic whenever I slide mine out, which these days happens more and more often. Who needs a sprayed-on nonstick for your favorite brownie recipe when you’ve got a well worn, seasoned cast iron skillet?

brownies

Mine has always been used for things like bacon and eggs, pancakes and the occasional cornbread. But I find myself using it more and more for things like rustic pot pies, pear tarts and now even brownies. It had never occurred to me to use it for baked goods (with the cornbread exception) but sometimes circumstances force you to consider things in a new light.

It was last week and Alan was out of town. I’d told the girls we’d have a special girls night: their favorite dish, a movie of their choice and their favorite brownie recipe for dessert. Perfect. Off we went to the store to pick up ingredients, tossed dinner in the oven and set it out to cool once it was ready. And then this happened:

 

dinner ruined

It was the dog. I won’t even go into all the strange things he’s been doing lately (eating a duraflame firestarter log?!!); this is not his normal behavior. But apparently he’d decided, as my dad put it, that it was also his favorite casserole and he wasn’t willing to wait to see if any scraps came his way.

So I did what any resourceful chef would do in that situation: I called the pizza delivery guy.

While we waited for him to arrive, I cleaned up the kitchen disaster mess and mixed up my brownies…but no 13×9 pan. I have other baking dishes, of course, but that’s the one I always use for brownies and nothing else would do. But then I remembered my cast iron skillet and I got a little excited. Maybe all wasn’t lost after all?

So about these brownies. These are one of the best brownie recipes I’ve come across. I use a few different ones but this one is the recipe I use when I want more fudginess than cakiness (<—– real words). I like to add some coffee flavor to mine; it really makes the chocolate flavor sing. I typically add a teaspoon or two of instant espresso but I hadn’t replenished my supply (who does the shopping around here, anyway?). So I did what any resourceful chef would do: I soaked some ground beans in warm water. Now, we use the K-Cups in our Keurig brewer and don’t just have bags of ground beans lying around. So I just opened one up and tossed the contents into about 1/4 cup of warm water. After a few minutes of steeping I strained it and added the water right into the batter. Worked like a charm!

For those of you who own a Keurig brewer…have you seen the new Starbucks K-Cups? I received some through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program and we really liked them. It tastes very much like the coffee I get at Starbucks, although I typically get a latte, not coffee. Alan, however, actually orders the very same kind of coffee when he’s at the coffeehouse as one of the kinds they sent us (Pike Place Roast); according to him, he couldn’t tell the difference between the cups we brewed at home and the ones he ordered at the coffeehouse. We usually buy our K-Cups in bulk at Costco, but I would choose Starbucks over our regular brand if they were both there side by side. And they worked great in our brownies!

After baking my brownies in my cast iron skillet, I have to say I will definitely do it again. The edges had a crispiness to them that a glass baking dish just can’t achieve. The center is moist and fudgy with strong coffee notes. If you don’t want to actually taste the coffee then just start with a small amount of the water the first time you make these (I used a quarter cup but put just 1/8 cup in the recipe). You can always increase it the next time…and I promise you, once you try these yummy brownies there will be a next time.