So addictive they need a warning label
Some food speaks to me. Like these little charmers, for instance. When I took my first bite, I heard, “Hello. My name is Chocolate Mascarpone Brownie. Prepare to die.”
OK, maybe not literally. But you’ll wonder if you’re hearing things when you sample these. “Just one more,” they will whisper. “What harm could there be in eating one more little bite?”
And before you know it, you’re under the table, covered in crumbs.
So be warned: Make these only when you have companions to help consume them. Or be prepared for the consequences.
Recipe: Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs adapted this recipe from one she found online (proving once again that the Internet can be a dangerous thing). The original recipe was developed by Peter Thornley, a chef from New Zealand, and apparently was featured on a Radio New Zealand program. For more information, see Chef Thornley’s Recipe.
Mixing time for these brownies is about 20 minutes, baking time maybe 40. So you’ll be done in an hour.
This recipe makes about 24 to 30 brownies, depending on how large you cut them.
Leftovers (ha!) will keep for several days if stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (see Notes)
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 6 large eggs (preferably pasteurized; see Notes)
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 8 ounces mascarpone (see Notes)
- 1½ to 1¾ cups unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350° F (375° F if using a metal baking pan). Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour and baking powder together and set aside.
- Melt butter in the microwave (about 1 minute), preferably in a container with a lid (see Notes). Pour melted butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer). Let the butter cool for a minute or two, then add eggs and beat until combined. Add sugar and mascarpone, blending until smooth. Add cocoa and mix until the batter is glossy (about 5 minutes).
- Add dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) and mix until well combined. Add chocolate chips and blend well.
- Pour batter into the prepared dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top begins to crack (see Notes).
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Cut into pieces of about 2x2 inches.
- If you use a glass baking dish, make sure it’s ovenproof. Bake at 350° F (instead of 375° F) because glass holds heat more efficiently than metal. If you bake at a higher temperature, you risk burning the brownies.
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.”
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. I usually replace mine once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so I remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually corn starch) to provide bulk.
- Why use a lidded container when melting the butter? Because butter can explode in the microwave. Guess how I know this.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So I suggest using pasteurized eggs for brownies. Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk? Especially since most of us can’t make brownies without tasting the raw batter.
- You can identify pasteurized eggs because they usually have a red “P” stamped on them.
- Mascarpone is a soft Italian cheese (similar to cream cheese) with rich, sweet flavor. It plays a leading role in Tiramisu, that most beloved of Italian desserts.
- I generally use the BelGioioso brand of mascarpone because that’s what is available in my local supermarket. But any decent brand should work in this recipe.
- I like Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa. But any cocoa of decent quality will work fine.
- Start with 1½ cups of cocoa, then increase to 1¾ cups if you like extreme chocolate (as we do).
- These brownies will puff up a bit in the baking dish, which is what causes the top to crack. That’s OK.
- It can be difficult to tell when brownies are done—and they may come out dry and taste-compromised if you over-bake them. Fortunately, these brownies are more forgiving than most. The mascarpone keeps them light and fluffy even if they stay in the oven just a little too long.
- These brownies seem to hold together best if cut into pieces measuring about 2x2 inches (pieces smaller than that tend to crumble quickly).
- Many recipes warn not to refrigerate brownies. That’s because, unless brownies are well-wrapped, refrigerators can suck the moisture out of them. Again, these brownies give you more leeway since the mascarpone keeps them from drying out easily. But do wrap them well if you decide to refrigerate.
- 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 all by themselves, they’re great with ice cream or whipped cream (another reason to skip the powdered sugar). A half ounce or so of Homemade Grenadine also makes a tasty sauce. Or garnish with fresh or macerated berries (strawberries and raspberries work particularly well).
Eat at Your Own Risk
“This is my last one, I swear,” I said, helping myself to another brownie.
“Maybe we should forgo the ice cream with these,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Too late now,” I said, glancing at the half-consumed pint.
“So which do you prefer?” asked Mrs K R. “These or the Ultimate Chocolate Brownie, which we posted about last year?”
“Oh, wow, tough choice.” I replied. “The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies have such terrific, deep flavor. But these do too, and they’re somewhat creamier. The other brownies have nuts, of course—always a nice touch. But they’re also the ones that take 5 — F I V E !!! — hours to cool and set up before you can cut them, unless you want crumb city.”
“You’re right,” said Mrs K R. “Hard to choose. If you can wait 5 hours, I think the other ones might have slightly better flavor. Slightly. But you can cut and eat these within a few minutes after you take them out of the oven.”
“Which may or may not be a good thing,” I replied. “Say, did you hear that?”
“What?” asked Mrs K R.
“That little voice telling me to have just one more tiny piece,” I said.
Mrs K R sighed, and passed me the plate of brownies.
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