Brownies: the dorm kitchen miracle

Friends! Romans! College students! Lend me your ears! I come to bake brownies, not to present a recipe.

Dorm cooking is hard. Not only do you have limited hardware, but it’s also highly impractical to keep the essentials like flour or sugar on hand. Every tool has to be multi-purpose, every ingredient has to be used up, shelf-stable, or easily disposed of. There are some simple implements in the duty office, which you can rent, but a series of first-time cooks ensure that thorough cleaning isn’t always implemented. And when you heap dietary requirements like gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and nut-free on top of that, it might seem impossible to bake a treat in your dorm.

Long story short: boxed mixes are your friends.

Luckily for me, the student convenience store has Pamela’s GF Brownie Mix on hand, which I can purchase with meal plan money.

The only required ingredients are:

  • 1 bag of Pamela’s GF Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • 1/3 cup of oil 
    • Or if you’re like “i hate greasy things”, then sub in 1/2 cup of applesauce and reduce water to 1/4 cup to compensate for that apple moisture
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg (I substitute the Ener-G egg replacer mix)

Necessary hardware:

  • Cupcake pan (my duty office doesn’t stock brownie pans, so I make do)
  • Cupcake liners (dubious cleanliness of the above means that I like the liners just in case, also easier removal from the pan. Plus it makes it a lot easier to share and transport)
  • Fork (who says you need a whisk?)
  • Spoon (for distributing brownie batter to the pan)
  • A big bowl 
  • Measuring cup
    • I can’t be bothered with measuring spoons for the egg replacer, but if you can’t measure yours from allergy-mandated experiences with eggless baking, then you might need some table and teaspoons
  • Oven mitt
    • Trust me, you’ll forget about this one. And then, when you’re standing in front of a hot oven and trying to pull out a metal pan, you’ll realize your mistake and grab a clean hand towel from your room.
      • That said, a clean towel works too

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Then, prep the egg replacer, mix together all wet ingredients, and add the mix to the wet ingredients. Fill the cupcake liners about halfway full, but if you can’t do that then just make sure it’s a consistent amount in each cup so that baking times are the same for all the cupcake brownies.

While you’re baking these chocolaty suckers, you’ll hear comments from the hallways like “It smells good in here!” and “Is someone making cookies?” or “Is Olivia baking again?” You will be visited by complete strangers who want to subtly petition for baked goods but will respect your baked good property rights (as guaranteed to you by the 5th Amendment). You will be visited by friends, who will make big eyes at you. Tell them what you will.

After about 12-15 minutes, they should be ready! Don’t overbake. Take them out with whatever heatproof implement you’ve improvised. Let them cool by sitting them on some disused stovetop coils. No one uses more than one at once, anyways.

By now, the whole floor can smell what you’ve been baking. Gently remind them that they’re cooling, while quietly deciding which ones you’re going to keep. Ponder why your kitchen has three microwaves when only one can be used at a time. Remember that your hallmates kind of set one on fire and that might be why. Also recall that someone on the first floor screwed up microwave easy mac and made the fire alarm go off while you were in the shower. You had to throw on clothes and leave your building still wet, wearing rainboots, pajamas, and a winter coat, while the fire trucks arrived. The stairwell smelled like smoke after that, ugh.

After reliving this memory, the brownie cupcakes should be cool! Steal yours away and keep them in your room. Give your roomie first dibs, then message your friends that they’re ready. After 30 seconds, text the entire hall GroupMe. Your friends will appreciate the head start, but this has always been a cocoa-fueled battle royale. They knew the risks. Within three minutes, your head will swell with grateful praise, you will be effectively cupcake-less, and you will have increased your social capital. You’ll still have your secret store to do with what you will. They keep for about 3 days, so eat quick!

An easy recipe, and all on your dining hall dime with minimal hardware and ingredients!

A finely baked specimen





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