Sunday, August 29, 2010

Best Brownies Ever!

I’ve been dreaming of baking all week.  Each day I get home I want to bake something but I don’t know what to make or I’m too tired to start anything.  I’ve decided baking during the weekend makes so much sense.  There are lots of things I’m hoping to make in the next couple of weeks.  I’d like to bake a loaf of bread and I’d like to make my own jam to go with it.  I figure once Ramadan is over I’ll be back in the kitchen full time. 

For now, I decided to stick with brownies.  While I very much respect the prepackaged stuff, I figured if I’m going to bake I better do it right.  I turned to my epicurious app and did a search for brownies.  You wouldn’t believe how many recipes there were!

I settled on the Best Cocoa Brownies because they looked simple enough and had great reviews.  The recipe is adapted (barely!) from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs (I used 2 medium eggs)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp confectioner's sugar

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. 

Set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water.

Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. It will likely take 15 - 20 minutes before it gets to this point. Here are a couple of stages that it might go through.

Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.  I used foil.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.  

Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.  Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

I was nervous these wouldn’t come out well because well they were in an 8x8 square pan!  I usually bake in 13x9.  The brownies were very rich so I cut them into tiny squares.  Overall they got pretty good reviews.  Hopefully the people who tasted them will provide you with their comments so you don't have to take my word for it.  Stay tuned for pictures and hopefully recipes from some of the tasty treats I had last night.

Hungry yet?

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