Sunday, October 10, 2010
I’ve avoided brownies for their simplicity. When I bake cookies, I want them to be overflowing with chocolate chips, raisins, coconut flakes, toasted nuts … whatever it is with which I’ve chosen to embellish them. Brownies aren’t so amenable to hodgepodge baking. You can throw in chocolate chips or nuts or spoon caramel atop them, but that seems like a denial of the essence of brownie, which is square, dark, plain, and stolid.
These are indeed square, dark and plain, but they’re also dense, fudgy, and decadent. I first made this recipe up a few weeks ago; I liked them so much that I made a fresh batch yesterday, but this time I tarted them up with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chipotle chili pepper on the theory that spices, being invisible, were not a denial of the brownie’s essential nature. Both versions are delicious.
Simple Fudgy Brownies (with our without spices)
Generously adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
8 oz. dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s chocolate discs, which bill themselves as semi-sweet but are 65% cocoa content – if not using discs or chips, chop into small pieces)
¼ cup cocoa powder (I used plain; dutch process or dark would also probably be fine)
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs (preferably room temp)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (a mix of half all-purpose and half white-wheat is also good)
Optional spices: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Preheat oven to 350. In microwave, melt together butter, chocolate, cocoa powder, coffee extract, and spices (if using them) in 30 second intervals, stirring with a spatula between intervals until chocolate and butter are completely melted. In a smaller bowl, whisk together sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs until light and frothy. Stir into main batter until blended. Add flour and stir until no white streaks remain.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Makes 9 large or 16 smallish brownies.
Printable recipe here.