Jul 29, 2009

Chocolate Brownies

It's been a while since I've had a real chocolate craving. When it gets warm out around here I revel in it and tend to focus on fruit and sorbet as my sweet treats. Needless to say, for the past couple weeks the last thing on my mind was chocolate. Then the fog came back, not bad, but lately it's been foggy in the morning and stays somewhat dreary until the the sun finally shines though about mid-day. After a couple days of fog filled mornings my urge to bake something chocolately delicious suddenly returned.

This week I turned to brownies to satisfy this chocolate craving. I think brownies can be tricky. I like them chewy but not cakey. I don't want them too sweet, but they must be full of that rich chocolate taste. Doing my research about the brownie I learned a couple essentials; 1) many recipes add a touch of coffee or espresso powder to help tone down the sweetness (who knew), and 2) in order to get just the right chewyness they must be pulled out of the oven when there is a bit of oozy crumb still on the knife (or toothpick) - otherwise you'll have chocolate brownie cake.

Putting my new knowledge to use, and combining a couple favorite recipes, these chocolate brownies emerged. And they put those cakey dry types to shame. Moist, chewy, and dense with rich chocolate, its hard to stop taking little nibbles of them.

An old friend recently sent me a recipe for beet brownies (not joking). Unfortunately I completely forgot about it this week. I'm looking forward to trying it out the next time I need to quench my chocolate brownie thirst...stay tuned.

Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Baked

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder*
11 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (60-72% cocoa)**
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons brewed coffee
1 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature (important)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set the rack used to bake the brownies in the center of the oven. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

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

Put the chocolate, butter, and brewed coffee in a large glass bowl and set over a saucepan of slightly boiling 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 take the bowl off the heat, mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mix and whisk until combined. Then add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir in with a wooden spoon or spatula. Careful not to overbeat the batter at this point (no cakey brownies wanted).

Sprinkle the flour mix over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mix until just a bit of the flour mix is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Start checking the brownies at 20 minutes, check every couple minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a little oozy crumb on it. Let the brownies cool, then cut and serve.

These keep in an air-tight container (or covered with plastic wrap) for about 4 days.

Serving: makes 1 9 x 13 inch pan of 1 inch thick brownies.

Local Ingredients:
Butter from Clover Organic Farms, and Eggs from Glaum's Organic

Alison's Notes:
*I used Green & Black's Organic Cocoa Powder
**I used Valrhona Dark Bittersweet Chocolate with 71% Cocoa

(photography by: alison clayshulte)


Mike Fontana said...

WOW! That's some serious dark chocolate!

Re: Testing for doneness/cake: Agreed! If you bake too long, they turn soft and dry. Pull them out a few minutes early, they'll be dense and moist.

The recipe I am currently using has been titled: "Five pound Brownies" as the pan weighs at least five pounds when they're done.

Will have to give these a whirl.

Gretchen said...

I've been awaiting this post so I could thank Alison for sharing a plate of these fantastic brownies with us. As Alison's neighbors, we were the lucky beneficiaries of this recent chocolate craving and her generosity. These were really great - rich, chewy and sweet but not too sweet. I think homemade brownies are too hard and for me they just never turn out as well as a store box mix does, but next time I get the craving, I just might give this recipe a tryl!

Alison said...

Mike - 5 pound brownies huh...what are you putting in those?

Gretchen - You are so welcome, there is no way I need a whole pan of brownies this yummy in my house for just Matt and I. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed them!

Steph Bond @ Bondville said...

Wow I just made brownies on Friday too! I'd love to try the beet brownies recipe - anything to get some vegies into Sophie.

I swapped out the dark chocolate for Lindt milk chocolate that I happened to have, and added some fresh cherries and they went down a treat at the 2 year old's birthday party we went to. I think I pulled mine out just a little too early though - I tried to say they were "moist" but really they were just a bit underdone. No complaints though!

Alison said...

Steph - those sound yum! I'm on a kick right now adding cherries to stuff, fresh or dried they add so much! I'll be sure to make those beet brownies soon...for Sophie's sake of course ; )