Last time I made brownies, I used the Brownies Cockaigne recipe from the old Joy of Cooking, and they didn't come out--in a big way. The ingredients separated out while they were baking, yielding a tray of...something...with a yellowish bottom and a dark chocolate colored top. I think the sugar was all in one of the layers as well. I'm not sure why that happened, but it could have been a few things--I substituted cocoa powder + oil for unsweetened chocolate squares (which I'd done with success before, but who knows). I used butter that was a bit old. I may have let the butter-chocolate mixture cool for too long. (In fact, I think that itself separated a bit before I mixed it with everything else.) I may have overbeaten the eggs.

That was my first brownie failure, but I figured I'd chronicle my brownie-making for a bit to avoid future failures. I make brownies because I want to be happy and have brownies to eat, not because I want to experiment. Failure doesn't mesh well with this.

Anyhoo, this time I followed a combination of the Joy of Cooking recipe and the classic one-bowl recipe from Baker's chocolate, which I've made with success before. Basically, I used the Joy of Cooking ingredient proportions and the Baker's instructions. Joy of Cooking wants you to beat the eggs with an electric mixer until they're fluffy. Baker's doesn't. I figured I'd try the easier, simpler directions first. If these don't come out the way I'd like, I'll move on.

What I did this time:

Preheated the oven to 350 °
Cracked 4 extra-large eggs into a bowl and let them warm up to probably less than room temperature
Melted 4 oz Ghirardelli 100% Cacao unsweetened baking bar + 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (which was kind of old and had been in the freezer) over the stove on very low heat (no double boiler) until just melted. I used a 3 qt pot.
Stirred in 2 cups of sugar and 1 tsp (real) vanilla and 1/4 tsp salt. I just put them directly into the pot I'd melted the chocolate and butter in.
Added the 4 eggs and stirred really really well with a fork. Used a spatula to make sure nothing was sticking to the bottom or sides of the pot, natch.
Stirred in 1 cup of unbleached white flour. Mixed a bit.
Poured the whole shebang into a 9x13 greased Pyrex and threw it into the oven. Which is where it is now. We'll see how it turns out.

And after ~32 minutes in the oven:

Respectable brownies, though nothing to write home about. Next time I'd like to get more of that flaky stuff that happens on top sometimes. Mmm.