Desserts

The Best Brownies

Clearly I had to post a chocolate brownie recipe sooner or later, so I chose sooner.

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I know I said yesterday that I usually prefer healthier desserts based on taste alone. Well, these are not healthy. As in, in order to make these brownies you take a half pound of chocolate, add butter, flour, two-thirds of a pound of sugar, and more chocolate, then put them in the oven.

They are the best.

And I regret nothing.

Let’s agree to never refer to sugar in pounds again though, okay? 300 grams sounds oh so much nicer…

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Just like the chocolate chip cookies I talked about yesterday, people get real finicky with their brownies. Some like them cakier, some fudgier. My ideal brownie is one that falls pretty much in the middle. If I wanted  something cakey, I’d eat cake. If I wanted something fudgey, I’d eat fudge. No, when I’m going to treat myself to a brownie, I want it to be the best.

I have to admit, box mix brownies can be really great. I always get a little excited when I’m somewhere where there’s a bake sale, because a) it’s a bake sale, but b) I know someone made box mix brownies and for fifty cents one can be mine.

Except for the bake sales at the last school I worked for. The selections were pathetic. Obviously I don’t work there anymore.

Box mix brownies tend to err on the side of cakey, but the really good ones have a slightly denser texture. The really, really, good ones also have chocolate chips added to the batter. I wanted to make a brownie from scratch that could blow even the best box mix brownie off the bake sale table. A brownie that could turn a bad day into a good day. A brownie no one could turn down.

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Let me introduce you to The Best Brownies. You’ll start by melting together some unsalted butter and chopped dark chocolate. I recommend using something that is at least 65% cacao, and of good quality. Next, three whole eggs, and all that sugar we just talked about. A little bit of brown sugar boosts the flavor, and makes the brownies chewier. A touch of espresso powder (because Ina Garten says you have to) and vanilla to intensify the chocolate flavor, some cocoa powder, and then flour. About the flour. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown shade yesterday at people who use all sorts of flours in their chocolate chip cookies, because I use a quarter cup of bread flour in these brownies. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than regular all-purpose flour. More gluten = a chewier baked good. If you don’t have bread flour, you can add a tiny bit of pure vital wheat gluten powder to the batter. But since it’s probably even less likely that you have vital wheat gluten in your pantry, unless your a seitan eating vegan in which case you wouldn’t be making these anyway, then you may use all-purpose flour only to make these brownies and they will still be The Best.

Lastly, I fold in a handful of semisweet chocolate chips, making these triple chocolate brownies. If you want to leave these as double chocolate brownies, that’s totally fine, but have you ever eaten a brownie with chocolate chips in it straight out of the fridge?! Yes the fridge, not the oven. The cold chocolate chips are so, so good.

Did I mention these come together in a single bowl? Not only do you get to have The Best Brownie, but then you only have one dish and a whisk to clean. How great is that?

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If you’ve been following my other posts from this week, you know the recital reception I’m catering is tomorrow. When I asked my friend Ann if she had any special requests, she said she likes “all things chocolate.” I actually made these for another girlfriend’s recital reception last spring, and remember Ann raving about them, so they were a no brainer to add to the list for tomorrow!

Can you tell I’m getting excited? I will say, catering must be really tough work. This is small time, and I still feel like I’ve been baking nonstop. Luckily I always feel like baking, but I like doing other things too, and I don’t think other things happen for caterers.

Turning a good weekend into a great one is as easy as making The Best Brownies. But just in case you don’t get around to making these in the next two days (but you will make them soon, yes? Yes.) here’s a summary of a hilarious Instagram my buddy posted a few months back.

Picture: Huge chocolate brownie in a cafe with a card in front of it that says “Fair Trade Chocolate Brownie.”

Caption: “I told the barista I’d give her my phone number if she gave me a brownie. She declined. Clearly she doesn’t understand what a fair trade is.

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The Best Brownies
Yields a 8-9″ square pan (about 16 brownies)

Decadent, fudgey, triple chocolate brownies made in a single bowl. As good as it gets.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup (76g) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cup (250g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (32g) bread flour*
  • ¼ cup (20g) cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2oz. semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8-9″ square pan with tinfoil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the butter and chocolate into a large mixing bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until fully melted and smooth. You may also use a double boiler to do this.

Add the eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla to the bowl. Using either a hand mixer on medium-low speed, or a really strong arm with a whisk, beat the mixture until just combined. Add the flours, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, and continue mixing/whisking until no lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 34-35 minutes, until the top is matte, stable, and slightly puffy. The toothpick test isn’t a great indicator of doneness here… use your judgement.

Cool the brownies on the counter for about a half hour. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 90 minutes minutes longer . One chilled, remove the pan from the fridge and grab hold of the sides of the tin foil to lift the brownies out of the pan. To make clean squares, use a very sharp knife and wipe it clean between each cut. These brownies are rich, so I usually make 16 squares. You may make yours bigger or smaller.

Store brownies in an airtight container either in the fridge or at room temperature. They’re great both ways!


*This small amount of bread flour makes for a super chewy brownie. Alternatively, you can substitute an equal amount of all-purpose flour and add 1/2 a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to the batter for comparable results, or just use all-purpose flour alone.

 

 

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