Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kinhaven's legendary butterscotch brownies

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When I was a teenager I spent July and August at The Kinhaven Music School, a small summer music camp in Weston, Vermont.

At Kinhaven, there were things you could count on. Bare feet from the moment you arrived until your parents came to pick you up seven weeks later. Mosquito bites. Making beautiful music with people you knew would become lifelong friends (hi Andrew, Shari, Wendy, Sarah, Kirsten, Andrea). And really good food.

The cooks at Kinhaven made every loaf of bread, every bowl of granola, and every sweet treat from scratch, using local butter, milk, and eggs. Above all other desserts, I loved the butterscotch brownies, a gooey bar cookie studded with nuts and chocolate chips made in huge sheet pans.

When my thoughtful friend Jeannie tracked down a copy of The Kinhaven Cookbook, once owned and since misplaced, she bought it and sent it to me. I made butterscotch brownies immediately - and I haven't stopped. Once you taste them, you'll see why.

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Kinhaven's legendary butterscotch brownies
Gooey bar cookies studded with chocolate chips and walnuts. Adapted from The Kinhaven Cookbook, published long ago by The Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a quarter-sheet pan or a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil, then spray the paper/foil with nonstick cooking spray.In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture smells like caramel. It may still be a little grainy; that's okay. Set aside for a few minutes to cool.Add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix about 1 minute, until the eggs are lighter in color. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and continue to mix about 1 minute. Normally, when you're making baked goods, you don't want to develop the gluten in the flour, but in this cookie you do, which makes the finished product a bit chewy.Scrape the butter-sugar mixture into the mixer and continue to whip another minute or so, until everything is well combined and you see ribbons starting to form as the paddle goes around. Stop the mixer, add the chocolate chips and nuts, and mix briefly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake 30-35 minutes. Do not overbake; you don't want the center to be liquid, but you don't want the brownies fully set, either. The quarter-sheet pan is shallower and will require less baking time than the 9x13.When the brownies are done, remove the pan from the oven. Cool completely before attempting to cut or you will end up with a sticky mess.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 large or 16 medium-sized brownies


Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious said...

Don't know Kinhaven, but I do know a good dessert when I see one! Bring these to a blogger meeting, or else!

Sean said...

I'm sooo making these for Mother's Day this weekend!

Jennifer | Bake or Break said...

I was *just* looking at butterscotch brownies recipes yesterday! These look gooey and awesome.

Vicki Wilde said...

These look amazing! And I bet they brought back all those summer camp memories :)

Unknown said...

Nothing tastes as sweet as childhood memories. XOGREG

Amy Hackbarth said...

These look delicious! By the way, due to a rough twin pregnancy last year,I never got around to making the zucchini recipes I pulled from your site. However, I look forward to making them this summer and I love, love, love your blog!

Erika Kerekes said...

Thanks everyone - they ARE gooey and awesome! And yes, they do bring me back to my childhood (or teen years, which in most cases I would rather forget).

@Amy I hope the pregnancy ended well and thank you for the kind words!

Sharon Graves said...

Wow! I'd totally learn an instrument for these, but thanks to you, I don't have to!

Amy Hackbarth said...

@ Erika - Yes, it ended well with my adorable boy/girl twins born healthy and no complications. Worth every minute of the 13 weeks of bedrest (almost 10 of that being in the hospital). I look forward to adding recipes from your site into my meal rotations!

Erika Kerekes said...

@Sharon but you might want to anyway - playing an instrument is quite rewarding in and of itself....

@Amy I am so glad to hear that! (about the kids, I mean)

Geez Louise! said...

I love food tied to sweet memories of childhood. My daughter is gearing up for her senior trip, I am going to send some goodies with her and her friends to make it special. Your brownies look like they would require a tall glass of milk, YUM~!

Gisele aka LA2LAChef said...

OMG- had the privilege of tasting a couple ( ahem!) of these. They were the best!

Tony said...

As the current Executive Director of Kinhaven, I THANK YOU for posting this! We just had a wonderful 62nd summer with...yes...butterscotch brownies every Friday! Great recipe!! Thanks for the shout-out.

Matt Fulton said...

I got just got home from my second summer as a bass trombone player at Kinhaven. Kinhaven is a very special place. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Tony and @Matt - thanks so much for finding this post and saying hi! Emery and I were sad that we didn't have a reason to come to Kinhaven this summer, but we look forward to our next visit. Perhaps we'll make a point of visiting on a Friday....

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