Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Search For The Perfect Brownie Begins...

Someone recently asked me what I would select as my all-time favorite sweet treat. Without hesitation, I responded --- BROWNIES! In fact, my first childhood baking experience was making brownies with a Pillsbury box mix. Eventually, I graduated to homemade and haven't looked back, especially as it is so easy to make brownies from scratch (most are one/two bowl = minimal dish washing = yippeee!!).

Everyone has their brownie preferences: fudgy vs. cakey, with nuts vs. without, bittersweet vs semisweet, etc. My personal brownie preferences are definitely simple and straightforward -densely cakey (borderline fudgy), no nuts, intense chocolate flavor.

Over time, I've accumulated dozens of clippings/bookmarks of brownie recipes, and it's now time to pull them out and do some brownie baking & tasting. I'll definitely blog about my kitchen experiments here, so without further adieu let's get baking...
My latest favorite brownie recipe comes from Baked: New Frontiers In Baking. This recipe has been awarded best brownie honors from America's Test Kitchen, The Today Show, and Oprah's O Magazine. Does it live up to it's hype? --- for me, I would say a resounding YES! The brownie's chocolate flavor is really deep and intense, and the moist, chewy texture is absolute perfection.

from Baked: New Frontiers In Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Yield: 24 brownies
Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several factors. 1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth. 2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter, and 3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been overbaked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.

Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.


Danielle said...

It looks yummy! I just asked for that book for my birthday I am glad to hear this recipe is in it!!

n.o.e said...

I'm glad you've embarked on this quest because I have so many recipes bookmarked it's overwhelming! Have you tried the on that was recently posted on Baker's Banter (the King Arthur blog)? Looks really good too.


chocolatechic said...

See...the thing with brownies is....I'd eat the entire pan, and people look aghast at me when I say I could do that.

I don't need people looking aghast at me.

What to do...what to do.

They look fabulous.

Teanna said...

Those brownies have my mouth watering! I love recipes where you have to go on the quest for the perfect recipe... such simple things like brownies, chocolate cakes, chocolate chip cookies. But when you find the right one, it is pure magic! Have you tried these http://www.bakeorbreak.com/2008/01/03/chocolate-mascarpone-brownies/ ? I absolutely love them, and although they are not an easy, whip-them-up in a pinch type of brownie (because of the mascarpone), they are pure heaven!

Donna-FFW said...

Wow! These are what you call drool-worthy! Delicious! Look fantastic.

Laura said...

Those look amazing! The texture of your brownie looks spot on perfect!

Jennifer said...

those look so moist and chewy!! Yum!!

Linda said...

oh wow, your brownie looks to die for. I can see myself munching on these beauties non stop. Thanks for the recipe.

Brownies for Dinner said...

Wow, these look perfect! I've been thinking of starting my own quest or at least a trek through brownie recipes... so many brownies, so little time. What's a girl to do? :)
I can't wait to see updates on your search for the perfect brownie!

Mary Jo said...

those brownies look so good! i'm definitely the fudgy brownie type but these look like they'd fit the bill. i'll have to try the recipe. can't wait to see the other brownies you make. did you make it to tartine?

Jason said...

You call that a brownie?! Ha! Come on! ... no just kidding, those look awesome. I have to wait till the weekend but I am going to make these for sure. They look just like the kind that I love :D

Sara said...

oooh, yum. I like my brownies just like you do. I'm going to have to try these ones- they look SO good!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

these look great! i know the brownies from the bakery itself--glad to see they bake equally well at home!

Erin said...

Your brownies look amazing! I should really try this recipe.

Tracey said...

Those look scrumptious! I borrowed Baked from my library not too long ago but didn't get a chance to give the brownie recipe a shot. The banana espresso muffins are delicious if you haven't tried them yet!

Brilynn said...

I will never turn down a good brownie recipe! These look great!

pinkstripes said...

I have to make these brownies.

myfamousrecipe said...

I just discovered the Baked brownie, too, and I love it! I'll check back to see if you can find anything that tops it.

SUGAR B said...

I am just going through your blog right now and I am loving it!

I also made brownies, named after my husband's ex. They were divine!

Megan said...

I just found this post from Nancy's site - and I'm doing a similar project! So many brownies and I want to eat them all!

Stop by if you have a chance - thebrownieproject.wordpress.com

mo said...

Great looking recipe, but one comment. Eight ounces of butter is one stick not two. Typo??

Linda said...

Hi Mo -

I'm pretty certain that 8 oz = two sticks.

thx for the heads up!

Anonymous said...


you are absolutely right!! 8 oz. does equal 2 sticks. i'm truly sorry for the post to your great looking recipe.

Thanks for taking the time to post and reply.

mo said...


I apologize. You are absolutelty correct and I should have my baking license revoked for making such a bone-headed error.
Thanks for taking the time to respond with gentleness to my mistake.


bakersbakery said...

Have you tried Dorie Greenspan's Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies? They changed my life...

Dazy said...

I'm planning to make this in the weekend. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

Cydney said...

I found your comparison and wanted to say a big THANKS for sharing these recipes! I'd come across the Supernatural recipe elsewhere this summer and my husband thought they were okay but too cake-y. My search for a fudgier recipe led me here and then to the Baked recipe... WOW, those were a hit! I hope you don't mind, I shared your posts, and the two recipes, on my little blog.

Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul said...

Hi! I've linked your post to my Baked Brownie post. You're welcome to join my cookbook giveaway.

Baking is my Zen will be having a
from August 8 through August 14, 2010.

The giveaway will be the ‘not yet released’ cookbook,
Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented
By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Carmen of Baking is my Zen

Kathryn said...

I made these today and they turned out wonderfully. Thanks for the tough job of trying out different recipes to discover this one being, the best. It really was great.

Anonymous said...

So I made these for my coworkers (I work at a national foodservice corporation so we eat whenever we get the chance!) and even though they are super rich and decadent, people were still asking if I had any left on Monday! Fabulous. I just happened to have fresh Belgium dark chocolate which definitely helped the cause! I want to try a different espresso next time, it was a little too bitter for my taste. Otherwise - dangerously delicious. And FAR better than anything we sell :P

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