Ok, stop the presses! Can it really be that I have been writing this blog for over 6 weeks now and this is the first time I am talking about brownies?!! Something must be wrong with the universe! Seriously, brownies are probably my most favorite dessert, I mean, one of my favorites, I mean I like them a lot oh, geez--it's hard to commit!--so how can I not have blogged about them yet? Well, this edition of Famous Fridays will rectify that tear in the time/space continuum with the rich, fudgy and decadent, Baked Brownie from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and and Renato Poliafito.
The Baked cookbook is filled with lots of hip modern desserts that hail straight from the bakery, Baked, which Matt and Renato opened in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 2005. That's not to say there aren't standard desserts like chocolate chip cookies and German Chocolate cake--there are, they're just put together in some new exciting ways. There's the traditional red velvet cake but with spicy cinnamon frosting, a classic chocolate layer cake covered not with chocolate frosting but a whipped, salted caramel frosting and a grownup variation of smores with peanuts and dark chocolate...you get the picture. But for today it's the traditional yet not so traditionally put together, Baked brownie, that we'll be indulging in.
There is a lot of chocolate in these guys, both the real kind and dark cocoa powder and you should use the best you can get. The recipe makes a very un-cakelike, thick brownie with a crackly shiny top that looks so inviting. Accept the invitation and take a bite...you will swoon from the dense, rich, chocolatey experience!
They're not hard to make but you really do have to follow the directions carefully and precisely. There's a little sidebar on the recipe page for these brownies and they highlight three things to watch out for: using a good dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark), making sure the eggs are at room temperature and not overbeaten into the batter and finally making sure that you check your brownies early and often and not overbake them. The recipe also calls for a teaspoon of instant espresso powder which I would definitely advise you to use--there's no hint of a coffee taste at all, rather the coffee simply enhances the chocolate flavor. Cool, huh?
I've made these several times now and if you follow all the steps, you will wind up with a really great brownie. One thing that's a little different from other brownie recipes is that after you melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler, you turn the water off but leave the pan over the water as you whisk in the sugar.
I'm not sure if these are my favorites--I'm more the "when I'm not with the brownie I love, I love the brownie I'm with" type of gal, but these are definitely high on my all-time favorite list.
So take a look at this fun inventive cookbook (actually they have two others as well-one is new and I haven't had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I have Baked Explorations and it's a lot of fun too) and head to the kitchen to make a freshly, baked brownie (pun intended!)
The Baked Brownie-Famous Fridays
Makes 24 brownies
Prep Time: About 30 minutes (only about 15 minutes active time)
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 11 oz dark chocolate , coarsely chopped (use a 60-72% variety)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9"x13" glass or light-colored baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
3. Put chocolate, butter and espresso powder into a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water (use a double boiler if you have one) and stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but do not remove the bowl. Add both the sugars and whisk until completely combined. Then, remove bowl from the pan and let it cool to room temperature (for me this took about 15 minutes)
4. 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. Be careful not to overbeat at this point or you will make the brownies cakey.
5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and using a spatula, fold the flour into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour is visible.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. If a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs stuck to it, the brownies are ready. Let them cool completely on a wire rack and then cut into squares.
7. Brownies keep, tightly wrapped in plastic at room temperature for about 3 days.