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Brownies for Democrats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Then beat in the eggs until just combined.

In a small bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Using a rubber spatula, fold it into the creamed mixture until just combined. Stir in the pecans and vanilla.


(Photos Nate Lankford For The Washington Post)

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Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then dust with flour, covering evenly. Discard any excess flour. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Sprinkle with mini-marshmallows, then return to the oven for 5 more minutes, until the marshmallows are partially melted and slightly brown. Cool 30 minutes, then cover evenly with icing.

You can refrigerate the brownies (or freeze them up to a month). When ready to serve, cut into 32 small bars.

Icing

2 sticks ( 1/2 pound) butter

1 pound confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pecans

1/2 cup evaporated milk

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well, until the icing is smooth.

Per serving (based on 32 brownies, with icing): 296 calories, 3 gm protein, 38 gm carbohydrates, 15 gm fat, 58 mg cholesterol, 8 gm saturated fat, 163 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Don't want to cook? Sample the sweet treats at these spots:

Firehook Bakery and Coffee House. Main bakery at 214 N. Fayette St. Alexandria. 703-519-8020. Multiple locations in Virginia and the District. www.firehook.com People make weekly pilgrimages to eat the Seven-Layer Bar: a smorgasbord of chocolate, butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut.

Juice Joint Cafe. 1025 Vermont Ave. 202-347-6783. www.juicejointcafe.com Juice Joint knows we can't be good all the time -- which is why it sells a Ghiradelli chocolate brownie with semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate and double chocolate chips. "What's the point of a healthy brownie?" asks owner Tom Holland.

Kirsten's Cafe. 9326 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring. 301-495-9686 (bakery), 301-588-3475 (catering). www.kirstenscafe.com For the holidays, this neighborhood bakery lets you special-order coffee blanc brownies (coffee-flavored blondies with white chocolate), Mexican brownies (coffee and cinnamon flavored) or peppermint brownies (bits of peppermint candy plus ganache icing with mint). But for a pick-me-up anytime, you can't go wrong with their classic chocolate version.

Uncle Ralph's Cookies. 801 8th St., Frederick, 800-595-0626. www.uncleralphscookies.com Don't be misled by the name -- Uncle Ralph's also offers about 15 kinds of brownies, including seasonal versions (up this fall: pumpkin raisin bars).


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