Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Best Brownie of My Life


I hadn’t intended on posting another dessert so quickly. I told you about cake not too long ago, and followed that with three pretty virtuous beet recipes. I have other nutritious main courses I’ve been meaning to share with you—lentil burgers, kale and quinoa pilaf, a stacked enchilada pie—but these brownies stole my heart, my self-control, and my intention to spread healthy recipes around to those I love. 

Can you believe that before last Friday, I'd never made homemade brownies? I had an urge to bake before going contra dancing, and was looking for something decadent. I’d just made oatmeal cookies, and I wasn't much in the mood for cake. (Don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold.) I’d pinned these brownies months ago (thank you, Sarah Mills!) to my “New Recipes To Try” board, and four hours later, I moved them to my “Tried & True Recipes” board. 

This recipe is from Baked, a much-lauded bakery in Brooklyn, which sells these brownies for $41 per dozen. Some lady named Oprah said they are her favorite brownies. America’s Test Kitchen ordered a bunch of gourmet brownies for a taste test (oh, were I an intern in that New England kitchen!), and the one from Baked won. I am serious about these brownies.

In the hotly debated cakey vs. fudgey drama, these brownies fall almost completely on the fudgy side of the line, but still retain the crisp, crackly top of a cakey brownie. They are rich, moist, sweet, and just a tiny bit salty, which I love. I will say: Don't let the need for chopping chocolate and a makeshift double boiler deter you from making these brownies. (Setting a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water used to be a recipe deal breaker for me. Please, please don't be as ridiculous as I was.) I don't know what else to tell you, except to set out some eggs and butter. 

So Valentine's Day is coming up. What might happen if you passed on the Godiva box this year and instead spent 30 minutes putting these together? Magic, that's what.


The Best Brownie of Your Life
Adapted from Baked
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, heaped just slightly
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (a serrated bread knife is perfect for this)
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
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I use the new baking spray with flour.) Line the pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
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 while you add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be close to room temperature before proceeding.
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. Don't overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will become cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible, again being careful not to overmix.
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 almost clean--there just be 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 let the magic happen.

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