Monday, March 8, 2010

Must love brownies.

At the beginning of the new year, Joy the Baker did a retrospective of her last two blogging years. She said this:

"I’ve been on the other side of love too. The break-up side. Yea…. not as awesome as love. The break-up side of love requires a lot of chocolate pudding. More than you might think actually. True.

Shut up. I made donuts."

It totally hit home for me. But instead of pudding, I'm talking about brownies.

I make it a point to never get too personal here--one of the many reasons Laura and I live together is that if I want to bitch and moan, I just call her into the room. It works for us. Being that Laura has been in Morocco, I have just been eating a lot of my feelings.

Break-ups suck, especially when the situation is complicated. Over the past few months, I have listened to the "Break-Up" episode of This American Life (you can listen here. It is so, so worth it. Phil Collins is interviewed) a million times. And then there were the baked goods.

Banana chocolate chip muffins? Yes. Homemade bread? Yes.

But when I read this recipe for brownies, I knew this was it for me. Simple and full of chocolate and butter.

These brownies don't require you to melt any chocolate. When you have melted chocolate in the batter, there's extra cocoa butter and refined sugar that surely the recipe accounts for, but wouldn't it feel better to know everything that goes into your brownies? Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla and butter--that's it for these guys.

I was musing the other day about qualities I'm attracted to. This was inspired by a commercial for Colonial Williamsburg, which sounded like a really great vacation. Aside from "wants to vacation in Colonial Williamsburg", I added "must like brownies". Maybe I'm looking for someone who is more like these brownies--uncomplicated, a little gooey, and rich (only joking. But the brownies are, in fact, rich).

Best Cocoa Brownies
from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces, 280 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, many people who have tried this recipe have found that this step works just fine in the microwave. Couldn't test this because we don't have one, but it sounds like it would work.]

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack. (I go further and throw mine in the fridge or freezer for a while; it’s the only way I can get them to cut with clean lines.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

1 comment:

Jacquie said...

Do you have Court's brownie recipe? I think these look fantastic, but I would love one of her brownies right now-- and thought I'd see if you'd ever made them. They call for a ton of eggs and sugar and very little else other than butter... and they could mend a broken anything including heart. Well, maybe not-- but the pain would dim slightly. Love you Bud, more than you know