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With our economy struggling and Congress bickering, it seems impossible to get people to compromise. About anything. For example, there are those who devoted to having their brownies cakelike. And, equally, some people will fight to defend their rights to a fudgy brownie.

If you are baking brownies for a party, and you bring only one style, you are certain to offend someone. What to do? Renowned food guru James Peterson has a wonderful new cookbook, Kitchen Simple, that has the solution. He says this brownie can satisfy either the cake or the fudgy camps. Suzen and I baked these, and Peterson is right.

These brownies have a very different consistency. It is rich and fudgy but retains a cake-like feeling. How does Peterson do it? He has found the perfect substitute for sugar: it is something called chocolate.

I’m serious.

If you look at most brownie recipes, the ratio of sugar to flour is 2:1 or 3:2. More sugar than flour. In this recipe, there are equal amounts of sugar and flour. But a lot of chocolate. For an 8” square pan, the typical brownies recipe calls for a few tablespoons of cocoa powder or perhaps 4 ounces of chocolate. Here, a full half pound of bittersweet chocolate is employed. The effect is dramatic, as you will discover when you sample these brownies.

Actually, you won’t sample these. You will eat them all.

Author James Peterson is recognized for his superior cookbooks. His Sauces was an instant classic and will be read and be forever used by foodies. Kitchen Simple is a carefully crafted book. Peterson calls it his collection of essential recipes for everyday cooking. It’s the perfect cookbook for a new bride [or groom].

Reading and using this cookbook will give you an unofficial BA in culinary arts. Beyond the recipes, there is an important philosophy conveyed throughout the book: the best food comes from you and real ingredients. Not cans and chemicals. Here is Peterson’s introduction to the Soup Chapter:

Judging by the popularity of canned soups, many of us are intimidated by making our own. Perhaps this is because of our images of long-simmered concoctions that site all day on the back of the stove. In fact, many soups can be made with 10 minutes or so of actual applied work. True, they may need to cook for 30 minutes or a little more but that’s all. While most of us think of soups as first course, when served with plenty of bread a typical soup is perfectly adequate as light main course. Consider a soup and salad to be the perfect dinner.


Suzen and I agree.

James Peterson Compromise Brownies

Yield: one 8” square pan [so you can cut it into 9-16 pieces]


  • ¾ cup [1 ½ sticks] butter
  • ½ pound bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts [optional]


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 8” square baking dish.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir until smooth. If the chocolate has not completely melted, microwave for another 15 seconds.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Sift over the flout, stir, and then stir in the nuts.

Spread the mixture in the baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting the brownies and serving. If you like, dust with powdered sugar.

Source: Kitchen Simple by James Peterson