Thursday, May 21, 2009

recipe: best fudgy brownies yet

My Quest for the Ultimate Brownie Recipe will be a lifelong sort of thing, I suspect. I suppose it only makes sense that in a recipe so simple (really, you could make them in a single bowl with just butter, flour, sugar, chocolate, and eggs), small changes make such a huge difference. I subscribe to the School of Brownies dictating that a Good brownie is rich, dense, and a bit chewy -- something between fudgy and cakey. I've tried a few different recipes lately (I've been going through a breakup, okay?) and here's my favorite so far. They could be a bit chewier. I'm working on it.

Let me know if you try this recipe with any variations! Edible chemistry is fun.

Oops We Ate The Whole Pan Brownies
Adapted from Joy of Baking, which loves to teach me things

INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter
4 oz. tasty chocolate (I used part of a 70% cacoa bar and some bittersweet chips)

1 c. sugar (I used 3/4 c. white and 1/4 c. lightly packed dark brown sugar)
3 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 of a vanilla bean's scrapings)
Pinch salt (up to 1/2 tsp if you like salty + chocolate)

3/4 c. flour (I used 1/2 c. all-purpose and 1/4 c. fine-ground almond meal)
1/2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs (I used 2 whole + 1 yolk)

METHOD

Set up a ghettofab double-boiler for yourself: Put a couple inches of water in a pot, and then place a second pot or a skillet on top of the first so that it's not touching the water (the top pot should ideally be just a tad too big to fit inside the bottom pot, but not so big that it eclipses the rim of the bottom pot, savvy?). On a low-to-medium heat setting, this will be a safe way to show melty love to your delicate chocolate.

Cut/break your butter and chocolate into chunks and add them to the skillet. You just want them to melt, not simmer. Stir occasionally.

While they're melting, measure your flour (or flours, or flour/nut meal combination) and baking powder out into a largish bowl and whisk them to get everything incorporated evenly.

Now's also a good time to preheat your oven to 350 and butter & flour a 9x9 pan (mine's shiny nonstick metal, which cooks things faster than nonshiny metal, silicone, and glass pans. You could also use an 8x8 if that's what you've got).

Once the butter & chocolate have melted into a delicious, calorically terrifying goop, you can take your ghetto-boiler off the heat. The residual heat should be plenty for mixing the rest of the ingredients… so add the cocoa powder, sugar(s), vanilla, and salt to the skillet, and stir to incorporate. (At no point during this recipe should you attempt to beat/whip/whisk the wet ingredients! Beating incorporates air, which leads to a cakier brownie. Stir firmly but don't crazy go nuts.)

Crack your eggs into a small bowl and stir to break up the yolks. (Egg whites will make your brownies chewier/cakier, and yolks will make them richer/fudgier. You should crack 3 eggs for this recipe, but use whatever white/yolk ratio you're comfortable experimenting with.) Take a tablespoon or so of the melty chocolate mix and stir it into the eggs to temper them, then stir the eggs into the chocolate mix until everything's completely incorporated.

Pour the chocolate mix into your flour mix and stir to incorporate. Batter will be thick and very sticky. Spread evenly into your prepared pan and bake for ~15 minutes if you've used a 9x9 (I'd guess at giving an 8x8 pan 20-25 minutes). Supposedly, a wooden toothpick/skewer inserted near the center of the pan will come out with a few bits stuck to it but not covered in goop when the brownies are done, but I never have any on hand so I couldn't tell you for sure. Other ways to tell that the brownies are done: The top is crackly and separating from the dough below it, the edges are just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan (definitely take the pan out when this happens), and/or they smell too good to leave in anymore. They'll continue cooking from residual heat a good while after they're out of the oven, so I'd error on the side of underbaked, personally. But I'm not particularly scared of/squicked by undercooked baked goods.

You should set the pan on a rack/towel/other room temp, heat-safe surface and let the brownies cool completely before cutting and eating them -- I know, I know, it's asking a lot. But the texture will improve and the flavor will intensify as they settle.


Any questions? Ask! I can't bake for all of you, so I want to help you bake for yourselves.

3 comments:

Mimi the Bee said...

Glad to get the recipe; sorry for the inspiration behind it.

R.I.P. Sunny D.

Miss(ing) Shakespeare said...

I'm giving you an award, chica. Come on over to check it out. =)

LifeGlutton said...

Made these tonight (no variations) for a card game, and everyone devoured them. They were soft, sweet, fudgy and yum. I do agree that they could be chewier, but I'll enjoy experimenting. I'll post back here if I hit upon something.