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A Little Slice of Heaven

What’s not to love about brownies? Chocolate, butter, sugar: It’s a divine combination

What’s not to love about brownies (except the empty calories)? Chocolate, butter, sugar: The combination smells heavenly while baking and tastes divine, especially to us chocolate lovers.

For Texan Mary Louise Butters, brownies are a way of life. Butters (yes, that’s her real name) has built a robust business around her brownie-making prowess. In nine years, her rich treats have taken her business from an Austin farmers market to national attention from the likes of the “Today Show” and Food Network. They are available in 21 varieties with whimsical names like the Sane Jane (a simple brownie with no additions) and my personal favorite, Aztec God, which has a smoky, spicy undertone thanks to chipotle and ancho chiles.

Butters recently shared with us the philosophy behind her success and offered some advice to home bakers: Great brownies start with setting a scene.

“It’s the music you play while you’re making it,” Butters enthused. “It’s the joy you have in the anticipation of knowing you’re going to fill your house with this amazing aroma and that you are going to be pulling out a complete pan of heaven and deliciousness that you’re going to share with someone else (or at least yourself).”

Equally important are high-quality ingredients, she said.

“The better the products you use, the better results you’re going to have,” she advised, adding that high-quality butter and chocolate will make a definite difference.

She also shared a piece of advice with which I heartily agree: Experiment with the recipe. “I recommend that since the muscle of a brownie is the chocolate, to experiment and play with the different kinds of chocolates that are out there,” she said, explaining that, like wine, the flavor of chocolate can be influenced by weather and other conditions.

Brownie baking can also be therapeutic, she said: “By the time you finish [baking a batch] I’m sure that whatever problem is bothering you, you’ll have at least halfway solved.”

As much as Butters shared about the art of baking brownies, there was one thing she wouldn’t share: her secret brownie recipe that is the backbone of her business.

So I will share one that comes from the 60 Years of Home Cooking cookbook published by Texas Co-op Power in 2006.

Mary Louise Butters Brownies are available in select stores in the Austin area and in San Antonio, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They are also available on her website,

Double Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Chocolate Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 ounces white chocolate, broken into small chunks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter in large mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Blend in melted chocolate. By hand, fold in white chocolate. Pour into well-buttered and floured 8-inch square baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with Raspberry Chocolate Sauce, and, if desired, ice cream and whipped cream. Garnish with raspberries and mint.

Raspberry Chocolate Sauce

6 ounces milk chocolate with raspberry liquid filling, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons raspberry schnapps

Combine chocolate, whipping cream and honey in medium saucepan. Heat over low setting, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Gently fold in sour cream and schnapps.

Servings: 9. Serving size: 1 brownie with sauce. Per serving: 461 calories, 5.7 g protein, 24.8 g fat, 51.1 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g dietary fiber, 184 mg sodium, 42.6 g sugars, 90 mg cholesterol