Emergency Brownies

There are times when it's just not possible to wait for the stores to open, for someone to bring the car home, the snowstorm to blow over, or the fog to lift. You need chocolate right away! Brownies are a common fix of choice.

These are quick. Mix in one bowl and cook in the microwave.

Be careful not to burn your mouth when eating the first one!

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 c water
1 stick margarine
1/2 c Eggbeaters (or other egg substitute or 4 eggs - - ha! - - if so, omit water)
2 c sugar
1 c flour
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional, but not really unless you don't like nuts)

Put chocolate and water into a microwave-proof bowl and microwave on medium-high until the chocolate begins to lose its square shape; exact time depends on your microwave; try 1 minute and see how it is. A covered bowl is best if you have one - - you don't want the chocolate to burn or dry out and the cover helps prevent this.

Add the margarine and microwave some more until the margarine mostly melts and you can mix the ingredients together. I use a whisk.

Add sugar and Eggbeaters and mix well. Add rest of ingredients, with flour and nuts last.

Spray a microwave-safe baking dish (about 9" x 9") with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Do not eat any! You must wait just a little longer.

Microwave on high for 4 minutes or so (again, this depends on your oven). Use this time to pour a big glass of cold milk.

Give the baking dish a quarter-turn. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes more (again, depends). Stop microwaving while the top of the brownies is still rather shiny; you can always add more time!

Put baking dish on a heat-proof surface to set up and make cutting them easier. This should take about 15 minutes, but I've been known to reduce this time and confess a spoon is involved...

And now the rigorous part.

After you cut the brownies, taste to be sure they -are- chocolate! It is possible someone sneaked in and swapped the batter on you while you weren't looking. Taste again to be doubly-sure!! It would be embarrassing to someone of your caliber to have faulty results. You might need a third taste; this is left to your discretion, but remember that reproducibility of results is important in science.

Hide remainder from your lab assistants.

It will be necessary to repeat your work in another 15 minutes. Are they still chocolate? 100% chocolate or denatured in some way (the nuts don't count)? Graph chocolateness v. time. Test again in 15 minutes, and so on until all results are consumed. If you have done careful work, your graph will be a vertical or horizontal line, depending on your axes.

Trivia: According to friends visiting from France, brownies are *completely unknown* there! Can you believe this?? What pitiful deprivation! And the French so highly tout their culinary superiority. I couldn't stand by and let them be victims of this unfortunate paucity of culinary knowledge, so I set about a cultural exchange program based on the joys of les petits bruns. They also learned about bagels.

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