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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Brownies and Baking Confessions

I have a secret baking confession. Despite being very OCD about using the best vanilla, whole milk, and good cocoa I always make brownies from a box. Well, always until this week.

I could have possibly gone the rest of my life baking brownies from a box, (preferably Betty Crocker Supreme Brownies with the Hersey's Syrup) if it hadn't been for Jon buying me Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented for Christmas. These guys were slightly on my baking radar but I hadn't tried any of their recipes until we made their Chocolate Whoopie Pies (which I forgot to photo and blog). Now their Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my go to frosting of choice. When I saw their brownie recipe from their first cookbook I knew I had to change my ways. The chocolate to butter to vanilla to dark cocoa ratio was unbelievable so I knew it had to work. And work it did, the chocolate flavor that you will experience is better than any brownie/cake experience I've had. They are perfectly fudgy and have that thinner than paper crust on top. What is it about that little crust that is so great?

The modifications I made on this recipe was this: it called for 11 ounces of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate means 60-85% cacao. For me I thought it would be much easier on me (and my wallet) to buy one 11.5 ounce bag of bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips. I bought Ghirardelli since that is the best brand I can find in Salisbury and they are better than most. And that extra half ounce? An extra half ounce of chocolate never hurt anyone! For the dark cocoa I used Hershey's Special Dark that I already had on hand. Oh, and that little tip about buttering your pan, then lining it with parchment paper? Best trick ever.

I'm completely won over. Goodbye little packets of syrup. And in case you still aren't convinced to make these brownies, they are on Oprah's List of Favorite Things. Isn't that enough?

The Baked Brownie - Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11.5 ounces (1 bag) dark chocolate chips

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass. Line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. 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. Cool until room temperature.

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. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. 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 lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.


Lisa said...

I keep telling myself I need to make those brownies. They always sound so good. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till tomorrow night and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your brownies up.

Amanda said...

Those look amazing! I'm such a lazy bum though when it comes to making brownies. The Ghiradelli boxed ones are so good, why stray? But you may have me convinced...

Newlymeds said...

Those brownies look pretty darn good! What is your favorite thing to bake?