February 08, 2014

Better Than Ultimate Brownies - #ElleAPalooza

I am writing this post in memory of someone that I did not know and many people would find that strange.  However, the food blogging community is like one huge family, and when we lose a member we all mourn, and grieve for a life lost way too soon.

News spread very quickly via the internet, and the shock and pain was palpable, as we found out that Elle (Lee Ann), of Elle's New England Kitchen, had passed away suddenly on Tuesday, January 28th at the age of 45, leaving behind so many heartbroken family and friends, including her husband, Billy and their four children.

How do you celebrate a life that touched many?  It was decided that the best way to do this was a tribute to her known as #ElleAPalooza, where food bloggers are sharing recipes from her food blog. After searching through many recipes I decided upon Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies.  I chose this particular recipe because I think of brownies as a comfort food, and she mentioned within the post that they were a family of 6 and that "an 8 inch square pan of anything doesn’t last very long" and I also have a family of 6 and feel the same way.  It just breaks my heart to think that they are now only a family of 5.

I also felt a kindred spirit in Elle in that she mentioned that this recipe had been bookmarked by her in 2009, and she was only just getting around to making it - I do exactly the same thing.  She found the recipe at Gourmeted, where it had been adapted from Carroll Pellegrinelli at About.com, and because she was missing some of the ingredients had to adapt it even further.  I followed her recipe, except for the mini chocolate chips which I found I was out of, but somehow I knew she will understand that sometimes you just have to make do.

A Friends of Elle page has been set up on Facebook where you can pay tribute to Elle, share links to the recipes you make, and also find links to donate to the family and the upcoming auction to benefit her family.

Aloha `oe, a hui hou kakou.

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

  • 3 (1-oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate 
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa (I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa) 
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 3 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 tablespoons espresso powder or instant coffee 
  • 5 eggs 
  • 2¼ cups sugar 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla 
  • 1½ cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 7 oz (remaining chips from the bag) mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and lightly grease the foil.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the unsweetened chocolate squares, cocoa and oil, the 3 oz of mini chips, the butter, and the espresso powder or instant coffee. Set aside.
  4. While the chocolate things are doing their thing, get the next step going. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. While not necessary, a stand mixer would do beautifully here--you can do other things while it mixes for you.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl, along with the flour and salt. Mix until just blended, and them stir in the remaining 7 oz of chocolate chips. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. YES. Twenty minutes. I don’t really know why, so don’t ask me--but trust me.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on your work surface a few times to release air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 27-30 minutes, and maybe even start checking after 25. The top should be shiny and the sides should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool, then lift them out of the pan using the edges of the foil. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.
Recipe by Elle - Elle's New England Kitchen

Notes from Elle
  • Makes a 9"x13" pan. Yay!
  • I use a 10 oz bag of Ghirardelli mini chocolate chips in these. You're going to divide it--3 oz melted with the other chocolate, cocoa and butter, and the remaining chips will be stirred into the batter.
  • Most of the prep time in this recipe is downtime for you. The ten minute mixing and the twenty minute wait time. The rest of the recipe is ridiculously simple, so don’t be scared off.
  • These will be your ultimate summertime brownies, with their fantastic texture and classic shiny tops. Bring them to the beach, cookouts, picnics, parties--you name it. Memorial Day and Independence Day are approaching--do you always get asked to bring a dessert? Bookmark these!
  • Make them for yourself, too! And if it seems like too many, give some away. But once you taste them, you may not want to. Freeze some. You know, for those emergencies when you need something chocolaty and cold. Warm it slightly in the microwave and have it with ice cream for a special treat!

Please check out some of the wonderful tributes to Elle in the links below ~


  1. Wonderful tribute and gorgeous photos. Pinning!

  2. What beautiful brownies, Felice. I know Elle would be the most understanding about any substitutions!

  3. Delicious and beautiful. I find it amazing how far this one recipe has traveled. Probably even further along than we know. Isn't that what friendship and cooking is about? Loving what we get from them and making it our own.

  4. That is so terribly sad. My heart hurts for her family. A very sweet post in her memory Felice.

  5. It's such a tragedy that brought this post to light, but what a beautiful batch of brownies!

  6. What a beautiful post Felice... I'm not familiar with Elle's blog, but my heart breaks at word of her passing. I know she would be pleased with your choice of memorial recipes!! These brownies look amazing!


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