Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 14, 2024

Baking my last batch of brownies

By GRETA MARAS | May 26, 2023



Maras describes how baking brownies has been a central part of her college friendships.

I made my last batch of brownies today. Not my last batch ever, of course, but my last batch for a few, specific, important people.

On the day of my convocation in freshman year, I baked my first batch of brownies at Hopkins in the Wolman Hall common kitchen for my First-Year Mentor group. Back in August of 2019, I was bound to the Betty Crocker box mix, since I had no time to shop for ingredients amidst orientation week. While I knew that my homemade brownies were definitely better, I was more than happy to bring baked goods of some kind to top off my group’s time together.

As we ate our convocation dinner and enjoyed my brownies for dessert in the Mudd lecture hall (it was raining outside in true Hopkins fashion), the boy next to me thanked me for the brownie and said it was delicious. While this probably wasn’t the reason he decided to ask me out later, it’s hard to deny that this was a contributing factor.

Once I got my own kitchen, I started to make them from scratch so everyone could taste my mom’s amazing recipe. Throughout my entire time at Hopkins, she has regularly shipped me high-fat, specialty cocoa powder from our town’s spice store so that the quality of my product never dips. I have a feeling this arrangement will continue as long as I live outside of the same ZIP Code as her. 

I’ll take just about any excuse to make brownies: birthdays, going-away parties for my friends who are studying abroad, Friendsgiving, my mock trial team, my coworkers and those mundane nights when my roommates and I just needed some chocolate. Even if I’m eager to bake them, there’s an inherent significance to my practice.

My mom has printed laminated cards with her recipe on it to give to friends, family, teachers, coaches and anyone else who needs a pick-me-up. She reflects her mom in this practice; there was never a time when my grandma didn’t have a fresh batch of cookies and blueberry muffins. Each time I give someone a brownie, I’m passing on a piece of the love she taught me to extend to all those who bring my life meaning. 

The most rewarding and fulfilling part about college for me has been sharing my gifts with the people that I love and, in turn, getting to celebrate their gifts. Through the first to the last performing arts showcase and research symposium, the many jubilant nights out after conquering a looming midterm and the utter euphoria of celebrating graduate school and job acceptances — I’ve been strengthened to be the best version of myself: someone whose love can best be expressed in baked goods. 

I’ve never been one to smoothly accept change. When I think about how time has whipped by since that final night of orientation week, I’m simultaneously angry about all the valuable time we lost to COVID-19, devastated to be leaving this place behind and so grateful for all the moments in between then and now. But I can’t feel any sort of regret for having lived authentically and fully, even if just temporarily, for four wonderful years with countless wonderful people.

So, to every single brownie recipient: I am forever grateful for you, and, even though I can’t bake for you with such ease anymore, I’m still with you every step of the way. I’ll put an extra handful of chocolate chips in when I think of you while I make my next batch. 

They don’t taste quite the same when you ship them from city to city, so here’s the recipe for everyone who needs it: 

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 handfuls of chocolate chips 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat all the ingredients until the batter is well combined. Pour the batter into an 8x8 pan. Bake for 22 minutes at 350 degrees (20 for a gooey consistency).

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