These brownies remind me of the ones they would serve at my elementary school on Fridays… more like a cake than fudge but still moist. Using a good quality bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder makes them more decadent. If you want to make these more fudgy, reduce the flour to 3/4 cup and omit the baking powder.

Old school lunchroom brownies



1 cup (2 sticks) melted unsalted butter plus more to grease the pan

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper also.

Using a large glass heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate together. Remove from the heat. (Be careful not to allow water to find its way into the chocolate because it will seize.)

Mix the sugar into the warm chocolate mixture. Stir so that the sugar dissolves into the chocolate. Add the vanilla.

Using a wire whisk, add the eggs, one at a time, taking care to incorporate well after each addition. Add the cocoa with the last egg.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold the flour into the batter, ½ cup at a time, making sure there are no streaks of flour or flour pockets remaining in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick. It should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan. When done, remove the pan to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, lift the brownies from the pan using the parchment paper. Slice into squares.

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For my niece Sarah, who loves this roulage and asks me to make it for her for every holiday.

Martie's Chocolate Roulage (roulade) Recipe

Back many years ago, there was a Birmingham restaurant called Cobb Lane located on a quaint cobblestone alley. Owned and operated by a woman named Virginia Cobb and featuring Southern specialties like Chicken Supreme, Chicken Divan, She-Crab soup, and homemade yeast rolls,  many of us celebrated our special occasions there. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and most often, bridal showers and bridesmaids luncheons were held there and always ended with Mrs. Cobb's famous Chocolate Roulage. My own bridesmaids' luncheon was there, and of course, we had Roulage for dessert.

I have made this recipe for years so when I was tossed a curveball on Food Network Star and found no ice cream freezer on set that day, I made the roulage instead of the chocolate cake and ice cream I originally intended to make for the judges. Happily, it won rave reviews and with a little help from my teammate Justin Warner, I got it onto the plates in the nick of time. Be sure to chill it properly before slicing so it holds together.

Justin and Martie Food Network Star Season 8

Make this roulage for Christmas Eve and it will become one of your family traditions. PS-I normally omit the bourbon when I make this recipe for the family.


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes plus 30 minutes cool time and chill 2 hours before serving


Softened unsalted butter, for greasing baking sheet and parchment paper

5 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon espresso or strong, black coffee

5 egg whites

1 cup cocoa powder

2 cups heavy cream

 2 teaspoons Confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup bourbon (optional)

seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Trim a sheet of parchment paper to fit a half-sheet pan or baking sheet. Make sure there is at least 1" excess all the way around after you fit it to the pan.

FOR THE CAKE: Butter the baking sheet, including the sides and corners. Line with the parchment paper and smooth it with your hands. Pull the paper up and flip it so both sides are now buttered.  

Fit a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and the sugar is not gritty, about 10-12 minutes.

While the eggs are beating, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl and melt it over a double boiler. When chocolate is melted, remove from heat, let it cool a bit. Sit the bowl in some cool water for a few minutes, if necessary.

Incorporate the egg mixture into the slightly warm chocolate by adding a little at a time to temper the mixture, so you don't cook the eggs. Add vanilla and espresso.

In a clean bowl, and using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Incorporate 1/4 of egg whites into the chocolate mixture by carefully folding the whites into the chocolate, taking care not to deflate the whites. Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate but make sure not to have any white streaks in the batter nor deflate the whites.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan bake at 325° for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread a dampened tea towel or several dampened paper towels over the top of the cake and let it sit for 30 minutes. Change out the towels if they dry out.

FOR THE FILLING: While the cake is cooling, whip the cream in a clean bowl using the whip attachment. Whip the cream, Confectioners’ sugar, bourbon, vanilla bean and vanilla on medium speed until stiff peaks form. (Bourbon and vanilla bean is optional)

TO ASSEMBLE: Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake. Using a fine sieve or sifter, sprinkle ½ cup of cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Spread the whipped cream mixture over the top, leaving 1 inch on each side. Rolling lengthwise, use the edge of the parchment paper, carefully roll the cake creating a jellyroll effect, tuck and roll as you go, peeling back the paper along the way. Put the rolled cake seam side down and very lightly dust the whole cake with the remaining cocoa powder. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. You might even put the cake in the freezer for an hour before serving so it is easy to slice.

To serve, slice cake with a serrated knife and place on chilled plates. Garnish with a light dusting of cocoa powder and fresh berries.

Yield: 1 roulage, about 8 slices

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traditional buttermilk biscuits served with chocolate gravy recipe

Traditional buttermilk biscuits with chocolate gravy.... yes. Chocolate. This old-school Southern treat isn’t seen too much anymore. Back in the day, many farm families would make a skillet chocolate sauce or ‘gravy’ and turn their leftover breakfast biscuits into a sweet treat or dessert. 

You can use your own biscuit recipe or even use canned or frozen biscuits if you must. The key is to make sure the biscuits are nice and warm before you spoon over the chocolate gravy. If I'm using leftover biscuits, I warm them in the oven while I'm making the gravy.



½ cup cold butter (one stick)

2 cups self-rising flour

¾ cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or fork. Add the buttermilk. Stir just until moistened. Turn out onto a floured work surface. Flour rolling pin. Knead 3-4 times. Roll dough ¾” thick. Cut with a 2” circle biscuit cutter that you flour between each cut. Place on a greased baking sheet. Let them barely touch if you want taller biscuits- they'll have each other to push against to help them rise. Don't let them touch if you like a less 'fluffy' biscuit. Brush with melted butter and bake for 12-14 minutes. 

Makes about a dozen.



1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Pinch kosher salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 ½ cups whole milk


Sift the sugar, salt, cocoa powder and flour together. Put butter in a cast iron skillet. Over medium-low heat, add the flour mixture and cook like you would a roux, stirring until it becomes light brown and you've cooked off some of the raw flour taste.

Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, whisking each addition until smooth. Keep whisking until there are no lumps. Turn up the heat to medium heat, stirring continually until it thickens.

I like to add shavings of some really good chocolate when I serve it... I keep scraps just for this purpose.

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