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.