Saturday, March 28, 2009

OMG Brownies

The son and his fam came over. Two things get triggered in me whenever they visit. The need to cook/bake and the need to drink. I don't know what it is. He brings out the worst in me. With only 4 eggs in the fridge, my options were sorta limited. Definitely no creme brulee (as if) or bread pudding (no bread either!). Brownies came to mind. And then of course a visit to my favorite food searching blog, Food Gawker, and a quick search for brownies. That led me to (after many lookeesees at many options) Sing For Your Supper Blog and a wonderful brownie concoction. I did a few modifications, as almost always.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa (regular cocoa is fine too)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (I didn't use any but would have loved to if I had it)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips (actually one 4 oz. bar of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate broken up into pieces and 6 oz. dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans), optional
1/4 teaspoon mint extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth
Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips. I didn't do this. I'll do it next time, though.
Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. It is thick. You have to spread it out with a whatever you're using spoon. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

The texture was fabulous. Whenever I make brownies or eat someone else's it's either too cake like or the edges are too done while the middle is undone. These were perfect all around. I did end up baking them for about 8 minutes more than the recommended time (I used a glass pan...I don't know if that made the difference). And it tasted VERY dark chocolate, probably due to my choice of chocolate. Next time I will use the regular semi sweet chips, two cups worth and probably more nuts. I love nuts. These brownies would go perfect with some high quality vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream. And coffee. Yum.

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