I made these brownies for a Super Bowl party, and even though they were in competition with a delicious homemade King Cake on the dessert table, they were a big hit (especially with the pregnant lady!).
My darling sister-in-law gave me a copy of Baked for Christmas, and for that I will be forever grateful because even though I have only tried a couple of recipes from the book, it is already among my favorites. I love the relaxed tone of the recipes, the accessibility and broad appeal of many of the desserts found within (don’t think I won’t come up with a reason to make a peanut-butter-chocolate-malt cake!), and the overall beauty of the book. I also like that they set parameters and definitions of what their products are and aren’t (to wit: “an even slightly overcooked brownie isn’t a Baked brownie”). That’s a really savvy rhetorical gesture, even if it’s a bit uppity.
The one thing I don’t like about it is that some of the photos of the desserts show the items with bites taken out of them. Seeing someone else’s teethmarks in a peanut-butter crispy bar that would otherwise look extremely enticing just grosses me out.
I sent the 5 or so leftover brownies to work with my husband and he forwarded a very sweet note from a coworker a few hours later: Brought back memories from when my Mom was around. She was so known for her kindness and made brownies for the garbage collectors and postman at Christmas and the small children in the neighborhood would even accept her brownies at Halloween. (A concept that our children and grandchildren will never know; imagine, homemade goods from neighbors.)
Any recipe that inspires nostalgia in a 60-year-old woman is a keeper, y’all.
The consistency of these brownies is hard to describe. “Perfect” comes to mind. I like a fudgy brownie that straddles the line between raw dough and cake, and these are fudgy without being gooey. They’re the perfectly dense storm of extremely moist, chewy-but-not gummy, delightful bricks of chocolate. Perfect.
The Baked Brownie from Baked – New Frontiers in Baking
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used run of the mill baking cocoa; I now have a bag of Valrhona cocoa powder for the next time I make these)
11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped (I used 7 ounces of 70% Valrhona feves and made up the difference with semi-sweet chocolate chips, as that’s what I had on hand)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.