Brownies, Comfort Food Part III

Do you see what I’m seeing? We’re living through the worst global health crisis since the 1918 flu pandemic, and there are more recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States than anywhere else in the world. And yet, the U.S. president seems to be living in an alternate reality, a fantasy. But there are too many Trump missteps and too much gaslighting to get into here.

When the WHO declared that COVID-19 was a pandemic in the second week of March, I gobbled up news stories. What I learned and what I continue to learn makes me sick. Now, I take small sips of the news, and I carefully choose where to consume it. I can no longer read sanitized, “balanced” reporting on botched responses to the COVID-19 crisis. When words and actions are immoral, irrational, and cruel, they need to be called out as such, because their consequences can be deadly.

Brownies have not assuaged my feelings of outrage and despair. Still, for a brief moment in the day today, I tasted something rich, indulgent, and real. That flicker of presence and reality grounded and comforted me. 


Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cocoa Brownies.


  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (70 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) flour
  • 2/3 cup (75 grams) walnuts, chopped (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 325 °F (160 °C). Butter and spread a little cocoa powder in an 8-inch (20 cm) round or square baking dish. Or line the dish with parchment paper if you have it. It will release from the dish easier with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Then add the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. It will still look gritty, and that’s okay, once it’s baked up, the sugar crystals will melt away.
  3. Pour the cocoa mixture into a large bowl. Vigorously mix in the eggs, one at a time. Then mix in the flour and stir well until thoroughly combined. Mix in the nuts last if using.
  4. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

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