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.
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.
- 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)
- 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).
- 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.)
- 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.
- Add the vanilla extract, and beat well to incorporate.
- 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).
- Fold in the flour, then fold in the nuts.
- Pour the batter into the baking pan, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes.
- 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.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 hours or more at room temperature (see Notes).
- Cut into squares of about 2 inches, and enjoy.
- 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.
“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.
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