Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies on Napkin with Milk, Black Background


Moist, Luscious, and Irresistible

If you like chocolate, you like brownies.  There’s no better vehicle for bundling maximum chocolate flavor into an easy-to-eat package.  Brownies combine chocolate with fat and sugar in a delicate balance that seems to make chocolate even more chocolaty.  And this recipe does it better than any other.

OK, so I haven’t sampled every brownie recipe known to mankind (there are thousands!), but I’ve had more than my share.  And if there’s a better recipe out there — one that delivers deeper, richer chocolate flavor — I’d like to know about it.  Until someone demonstrates otherwise, I can confidently say that this recipe is the champion.

How appropriate!  With the Olympics going on right now, you can bake a batch — and win your own gold medal.



Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in Bowl with Ice Cream

Recipe:  The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

Although I do most of the cooking in our household, dessert really isn’t my thing.  Oh, I can assemble the odd desert or two (like Easy Peach Cobbler; and my Chocolate Mousse — a recipe I still owe you — is spectacular).  But Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the real dessert maven.  It’s a good arrangement:  She bakes, I eat.  She’s also a major chocoholic, and she’s scoured every cookbook in our considerable collection (and made countless visits to the library) in search of the ultimate brownie recipe.  So all the knowledge and wisdom in this post is hers. 

There’s one downside with these brownies, though.  The recipe suggests that you wait at least 5 — five!! — hours before removing them from the pan and eating them.  And I have to admit that, if you don’t wait, they’ll crumble when you cut them.  So you’ll have to torture yourself by waiting far longer than most people find reasonable before enjoying them.  But good news!  Even if you cut them too soon (and they disintegrate into crumbs), they’ll still taste great.  You just need a fork.  I think you can imagine how I know this. 

This recipe is adapted from Brownies by Linda Burum. It takes maybe 25 minutes to put together a batch, and another 30 to bake them. (Plus the 5 — five!! — hours of waiting until you can cut them.) The recipe makes an 8 x 8 inch pan of brownies.

Ingredients
  • 8 or 9 ounces semisweet chocolate (see Notes)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup all-purpose-flour
  • 1½ cups chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are perfect; see Notes)
Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to about 375 degrees F (or 350 degrees F for glass).  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan (see Notes for more on baking pans). 
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and melt the chocolate, taking the bowl out to stir every 30 seconds until melted (total melting time will be no more than 2 minutes; see Notes for more on melting chocolate).  When melted, stir until smooth and glossy, and let cool to room temperature.  (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate on the stovetop — but be careful that it doesn’t scorch.)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs until they become thick — about 5 minutes.  (You can use a hand mixer, but a stand mixer works better.)  Add salt and sugar.  Continue beating until the eggs create soft peaks, like the peaks in whipped cream — another 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, and beat well to incorporate.
  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer, and pour cooled chocolate mixture around the eggs.  Using a flat spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs gently (you want to keep the batter light and fluffy). 
  6. Fold in the flour, then fold in the nuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Start testing at that time by inserting a wooden toothpick.  The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out slightly moist (with a few bits of brownie stuck to it).  It usually takes about 30 minutes until the brownies are done, but ovens vary.
  9. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 hours or more at room temperature (see Notes). 
  10. Cut into squares of about 2 inches, and enjoy.

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in Baking Pan, Overhead View with Black Background

Notes
  • This recipe really works best with about 8½ to 9 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, although 8 ounces will work fine.  If you have an 8-ounce box of baking chocolate (a typical package size) and don’t want to buy another one just for an ounce, you can add some semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • Mrs K R has tried about every brand of chocolate imaginable in making these brownies.  She’s used both domestic and imported chocolate; the high buck, high-cacao content bars; and the cheap stuff.  Everything except white chocolate (which really isn’t chocolate).  Her conclusion?  The Baker’s-brand chocolate — the kind carried in every grocery store — wins hands down.  More expensive brands of chocolate often taste better when eaten neat.  But that doesn’t mean they work as well for brownies.
  • Why melt the chocolate and butter together?  Because melting chocolate by itself is dicey.  If plain melted chocolate comes into contact with moisture (sometimes even steam), it can “seize” — instantaneously morphing into a block of grainy brown concrete.  Melting with butter prevents this. 
  • If you melt the chocolate on top of the stove, use low heat and watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t scorch.
  • Nuts are not really optional in the recipe, IMO.  Nuts deliver their own unique flavor, adding a bit of complexity to the brownies.  But remember also that nuts are largely fat, which carries flavor — chocolate is actually pretty tasteless stuff in the absence of fat.  The fat in both the butter and the nuts helps boost the chocolate-ness of these brownies.
  • What type of baking pan should you use — silicone, metal, or glass?  Mrs K R has used all three  and now prefers silicone for brownies.  These brownies seem to bake more evenly and retain more moisture in a silicone pan.  But use any 8x8 inch pan that works for you. 
  • One minor point about silicone baking pans:  They are super-flexible, and can be hard to handle.  So slide the silicone pan onto a cookie sheet for baking.
  • If you use a glass baking pan, make sure it’s ovenproof.  Bake at 350 degrees F instead of 375 because glass holds heat more efficiently than metal.  If you bake at a higher heat, you risk burning the brownies.  BTW, with a glass pan, you may have to bake the brownies a bit longer than with metal.
  • Don’t overbake!  Overdone brownies are dry, dry, dry.  The toothpick you use for testing should be moist when you remove it from the brownies.  If it’s dry, your brownies are overdone.
  • Many recipes warn not to refrigerate brownies (in fact, the original of this recipe includes such a caution).  That’s because, unless brownies are well-wrapped, refrigerators can suck the moisture out of them.  So the solution is obvious:  Wrap your brownies well.
  • In fact, you want to do that even if you don’t refrigerate your brownies.  After they’ve cooled to room temperature, but before you’ve cut them (about 45 minutes out of the oven), wrap the pan in shrink wrap.  Then after you cut them, wrap the brownies themselves in shrink wrap.  If you’re extra paranoid, you can wrap again in foil.
  • If your brownies are properly wrapped, you can refrigerate them with no worries.  But they’ll taste better if allowed to come to room temperature before being consumed.
  • By the way, we often refrigerate our brownies — wrapped! — during that 5-hour window before we’re “supposed” to cut the brownies.
  • Most brownie recipes suggest garnishing with confectioner’s sugar.  That’s never really appealed to Mrs K R or me.  We like the rich, brown chocolate look.  But sprinkle some powdered sugar on these if it pleases you.
  • Although brownies are delicious eaten out of hand, they’re also great plated and served with ice cream or whipped cream. A half ounce or so of Homemade Grenadine also makes a tasty sauce.
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies on Napkin with Milk, Black Background

Bake a Double Batch

“Is this a joke?!” I asked Mrs K R the first time she baked these brownies — and then announced that we had to let them rest for 5 hours before cutting.  “The brownies are right here, and so am I.  I can’t wait 5 hours before tasting these!  No normal person could!”  I may have had tears in my eyes as I said that.

“No joke,” she replied, handing me a tissue.  “Probably they need to firm up or something.”  Which was indeed the case, as we discovered (and detailed above). 

But their aroma alone was driving us wild with desire, so what were we supposed to do?  Go to a movie?  Like maybe War and Peace?

So of course we cut into those brownies.  And enjoyed our crumbs.  Best darn crumbs I ever ate!

Nowadays, Mrs K R always makes a double batch of these.  That way we can enjoy their great flavor immediately, but still have enough to cool properly and cut into decent-sized pieces.

It works out well.  We can have our crumbs.  And our brownies too.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Homemade Grenadine
Strawberry Sauce
Homemade Meringues
Easy Peach Cobbler
Bread Pudding
Chocolate Drop Cookies
Zabaglione
Root Beer Floats
Cherry Winks Cookies

80 comments:

  1. OMG ... I love, love, love brownie recipes and have to try this one ... the five hours is gonna kill me :-)

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    1. Hi CJ, it's a great brownie. But that 5 hours is really tough! Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Ooh, I'm always looking for a great brownie recipe! This one looks fantastic. Great post!

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    1. Hi Jen, this recipe is a keeper - I think you'll enjoy it. Have fun making it! Thanks for your comment.

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  3. The chocolate gods were shining down on Mrs. KR for sure on this one! They look lovely--and I quite agree with the Baker's chocolate note. I have a soft spot in my heart for Ghirardelli, but sometimes Old School chocolate is required. I've shunned the rubbery silicone baking pans--just can't seem to wrap my head around putting that in my oven. Maybe I have a silicone-phobia?

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    1. Hi Kelly, Mrs K R really knows her chocolate and her baking. She really likes the silicone, although I know a lot of people don't (they don't brown things well; which is a feature with brownies, IMO, not a bug). You definitely have to give this recipe a try - knowing how much you like chocolate, you'll love this. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. You have made my week end perfect. These sound and look as though they are to die for. I think brownies has to be one of my absolute favourite treats to eat. I am surely going to give this recipe a try, and produce a double batch, cause I'm with you on the waiting 5 hours part, theres no way, no how I could with these pieces of heaven starring right at me. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Alessandra, 5 hours just doesn't happen here. But the crumbs are good! You'll like these - that's a promise. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. We are so thinking along the same lines my friend :D
    Your brownies look ridiculously scrumptious!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Choc Chip Uru, I kinda thought this recipe might appeal to you! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  6. these look perfectly moist & chocolate-y! those nuts would add fantastic crunch too!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Hi Ally, they're really great! One of the best sweets I've ever eaten. Thanks for your comment.

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  7. irresistable combo of flavors..looks wonderful
    Tasty Appetite

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    1. Hi Jay, they really are wonderful. Wish I had some now - they're all gone! Thanks for your comment.

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  8. Your wife has made a science of brownie baking - great notes. I was going to say why don't you stick the dish in the fridge after the first 1/2 hour but obviously you have tried everything. The Freezer? To speed up the process? The problem for me would be running out of light for the photography - unless you started the process early in the morning. Once I have baked the dish, I am always keen to get on to the photography part and would suffer with waiting 5 hours. And then there's the desire to taste one....

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    1. Hi Suzanne, she really has spent a lot of time perfecting this (someone has to do it!). You might be able to get by cutting them after a couple of hours, and maybe the pieces will hang together - but they really do need time to just sit. The freezer doesn't really help. I actually took these photos (all except the overhead shot) the next day - she really did make a double batch, and we had some crumbs the first day just because the flavor of these is so irresistible. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Oh - goodness! Look at those scrumptious bars. Thanks for sharing your tips as well. I love a little sprinkle of powdered sugar on my brownies too :)

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    1. Hi Yudith, be careful: these are addictive! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  10. My God, I'd eat the crumbs too and whisk away the evidence. :) These brownies look so good!

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    1. Hi Maureen, these are really super. You should bake them for your afternoon tea. With any luck, your John will find them too sweet, so you'll get the entire batch. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Hahaha I totally understand the urge to cut into the brownies...I NEVER like to wait when it comes to freshly made desserts...it's often not a good thing :P These brownies look amazing! I don't have a huge sweet tooth but I am a bit of a chocoholic too...I would totally love this. :D

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    1. Hi Jenny, patience isn't my strong suit either when it comes to things like that! But good as the crumbs are, the actual brownie is even better, so it's worth the wait. If you love chocolate it's totally worth trying this brownie. Thanks for your comment.

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  12. I've never made brownies...so I was never aware that you had to let them rest for that lon...I don't think I could wait!! p.s. The photo-a-day challenge is very fun! Most days I take more than one photo a day, but only ever one related to the topic for that day to share ;)

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    1. Hi Ali, I don't think most brownies need to rest that long - it's just something about the ratio of ingredients (these don't have a lot of "binding" ingredients) that takes awhile for the brownies to set up. Thanks for the additional info on the photo-a-day challenge - it does sound like fun. And thanks for commenting.

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  13. Wow those brownies looks decadent, I want to sink my teeth in to that

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    1. Hi Raymund, they are indeed decadent. Which means, of course, that you need them! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  14. These look dee-licious! And your shots are even more amazing. I just gotta try them.

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    1. Hi leemz, they're great! You'll be happy that you tried them. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  15. I love brownies! and yours look amazing!!!!! want them all!

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    1. Hi Marta, if you make your own batch you can have them all! But make a double batch so you can try them both as crumbs, and later as actual brownies. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  16. Oh John - you write so well! I really enjoy reading your posts. I've never heard of brownies that had to rest for 5 hours, but then I've never made brownies from scratch nor spent years (like some people) looking for this ultimate brownie recipe. :)These do look SO, SO good! It's hard to imagine them crumbling if eaten within the 5 hour period. They look perfect! Oh and yes - who would dare to leave out the nuts!?

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    1. Gosh, MJ, thanks! That's a very kind thing to say. The search for the ultimate brownie wasn't deliberate - it's a byproduct of both of us being pigs, and Mrs K R enjoying baking. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  17. Wow, these certainly DO look perfect! I love how many notes you put!
    So the toothpick test..doesn't work for brownies? I haven't made brownies in YEARS, and I think I forgot. So the toothpick should be moist as in.. little crumbs still attached to it? Oh man, I need to make brownies again!

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    1. Hi Cathleen, yes, little crumbs should still be attached to the toothpick. It's no huge deal if you overbake a bit - they just will be a little drier. But the flavor will still be good. Thanks for your comment.

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  18. I'm always on the look out for new brownie recipes and this one looks phenomenal!! Can't wait to give it a try! :)

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    1. Hi Baker Street, this is a good one! Let me know how you like it. Thanks for your comment.

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  19. Another wondeful recipe. I also like Bakers's chocolate and now I will have to try a silicone pan. I was surprised at the high temperature and the amount of chocolate. However I would not let that deter me! Can't wait.

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    1. Hi Abbe, I know a lot of bakers don't like silicone, but for brownies my wife really likes them. This really is a great recipe - I think you'll like it. Thanks for commenting.

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  20. Brownies are my all time favorite dessert. I always bake a big batch and keep in my freezer for the unexpected guests.
    Your brownies look incredibly delicious and will have to give this recipe a shot!

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    1. Hi Asmita, aren't brownies great? Freezing some is a terrific idea. Let me know how you like this recipe! Thanks for your comment.

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  21. Mmmm, chock full of nuts! This reminds me of the brownies I used to eat when I would get school lunch in elementary school. They always had plenty of walnuts in them plus a gooey fudge frosting. These look great--and yes, you definitely need that big glass of milk to down 'em!

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    1. Hi Courtney, who doesn't remember brownies from when they were a kid? These will take you back - promise! Thanks for your comment.

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  22. Your brownies look delicious and I love the idea of a grenadine sauce, how unique is that? As always you offer tips that oftentimes even though those of us reading your post cook a lot, yet, often forget basic techniques. It's always nice for a refresher course. Great post and yummy looking brownies!

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    1. Hi Vicki, grenadine combines well with chocolate - in fact we've served these brownies with the grenadine and vanilla ice cream before for a real over-the-top dessert. Good stuff! Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  23. Hi John, how did I miss this post? I guess to much partying... :) You already know my "sweet" story, so I'll have just milk and give the brownie to someone. But it looks definitely great, and sure would please many sweet eater...:)

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    1. Hi Marina, you're right - this dessert just isn't for you. We'll have one coming up in a bit, though, that I'm pretty sure you'll like. Thanks for your comment.

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  24. Those look so delicious! Moist brownies are so irresistible. I love that first picture.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, these are indeed irresistible - really good stuff. Thanks for the kind words - you're such a great photographer that they mean a lot. And thanks for commenting.

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  25. I love it when I see brownies where you can see the chunks of nutty guts and this brownies of yours is one of them. Very mouth watering!

    ~ ray ~

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    1. Hi Ray, this brownie has nutty guts galore! ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  26. This recipe definitely looks like a winner! And you've got such a great set of tips here. I just had breakfast and now I'm hungry for a brownie!

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    1. Hi Jeanne, because you're such a great baker, your praise is particularly sweet! Thanks for commenting.

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  27. wat a fantastic recipe...absolutely delicious
    Tasty Appetite

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    1. Hi Jay, these are wonderful - well worth making. Thanks for your comment.

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  28. Wow, the brownies look awesome, the way I like it...very nutty :)
    Thanks for this recipe and hope you are having a great week!

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    1. Hi Juliana, they're great! And I like nuts in my brownies too. Thanks for your comment.

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  29. I love it. A delicious recipe AND a joke. Wait 5 hours. HaHaHA! Good one! And yes, it ain't a brownie unless it has nuts. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

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    1. Hi ChgoJohn, it's a great recipe! And I wish you really didn't have to do that 5 hour thing, but the brownies do crumble without sufficient rest. Thanks for your comment.

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  30. "The ultimate" is right! My gosh, this is like a perfect brownies shot! You make me even feel sad that I don't have a piece. Haha. Awesome job making these brownies and taking the best shot!

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    1. Hi Nami, glad I made you hungry! Thanks for your kind words, and your comment.

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  31. Really moist, luscious and irresistible!! These brownies look so perfect... I wonder how these don't turn out so perfect when I make them... Brilliant!

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    1. Hi Purabi, these are great - well worth trying. I think the main variable in baking is ovens vary widely in their ability to hold a constant temperature, so that sometimes throws timing off. You should give these a try to see how your oven handles them! Thanks for the comment.

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  32. I love a good brownie. These look fabulous!

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    1. Hi Jen, aren't brownies great? Best way to eat chocolate, IMO. Thanks for your comment.

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  33. I love how these aren't for the faint at heart! That is one thick monster - just the way I like my brownie! I like to use these ghiradelli chocolate chips that you find at costco during the holidays. Super chocolate flavor! But, I'm willing to sacrifice myself as Mrs. K did to resample the chocolate selection again!

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    1. Hi Family Spice, I hadn't thought about it (I'm so used to these!) but these are a bit thicker than your average brownie. Probably part of why it takes so long before you can cut them without crumbles. Mrs K R tells me it's important to resample all available chocolate on at least a yearly basis. Just because. Thanks for your comment.

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  34. I have been looking for a great brownie recipe forever and I think I just found it. Thank you for all the notes, they are extremely helpful.
    One problem though...5 hours!! a double batch seems to be the only way out!

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    1. Hi Sawsan, this one really works, and has great flavor. Sorry about that 5 hour thing - but the double batch is a pretty good solution. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  35. I will most definitely make a double batch, and then scoop some vanilla bean ice cream on top. YUM!

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    1. Hi Chung-Ah, vanilla ice cream with this is delish. If you have it, add a bit of grenadine - sounds weird, but it goes so well with the brownie and ice cream flavors. Thanks for your comment.

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  36. The brownie and milk photo is so comforting...
    LL

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    1. Hi Lori, something about a brownie picture that requires milk in it. Classic combo. Thanks for your comment.

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  37. I would happily eat crumbly brownies if it meant not having to wait. As always, your notes are full of great information. I don't typically put nuts in my brownies, but now you've convinced me to give it a try.

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    1. Hi Beth, we sometimes do half & half if we're baking a single batch: have some crumbs, then wait and cut the rest when they'll hold together. I often prefer brownies without nuts too, but in this recipe they really enhance the entire experience. Thanks for your comment.

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  38. I have been craving brownies with walnuts lately.....now I really need to make some for sure:-) My mom always makes sweet treats with walnuts, but I seem to always use pecans in my treats. I do miss walnuts, there is something about the flavors of walnuts with a fudgey brownie, a perfect combo! Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, I like pecans in baked goods too, although I don't think we've ever put them in this - we should. But walnuts do just kinda of meld with with chocolate - kinda nice. Thanks for your comment.

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  39. I love the notes at the end of this recipe - so helpful. And these brownies do look darn delicious - so beautiful studded with nuts. I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I love the inspiration I get from your food…

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    1. Hi Javelin Warrior, they're great! Gosh, thanks for featuring this - that's very nice of you to do. And thanks for letting me know.

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  40. I love how many walnuts I can see in your brownies - there is nothing worse than a low nut count. They look so fudgey and delicious.

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    1. Hi Amanda, yeah, Mrs K R really loads in the walnuts. These really are fantastic - highly recommended. Thanks for your comment.

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