Monday, September 26, 2005

A day off from work...

...means more time to try brownie recipes!

DS#2 is home from school with a fever, so I am home too. Decided to try yet another brownie recipe, but I guess I should also figure out what's for dinner.

First things first:

Classic Brownies
Source: Cook's Illustrated

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it), the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy; if overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.

Makes twenty-four 2-inch-square brownies

1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces), chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups plain cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped fine
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar (15 3/4 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13- by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost--simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

My notes: These brownies were closer to the texture I'm looking for - chewy on the edges - but these too seemed underdone in the middle. I baked them for 35 minutes and the toothpick came out fairly clean with only a few crumbs, indicating they were done. When I cut into them, they are still a bit gooey in the middle. The chocolate flavor in these is not quite as good as the chocolate flavor in the Fudgy, Chewy, Cakey brownies.

Another thing that doesn't thrill me with this recipe is that it uses cake flour and unsweetened chocolate - two things that I don't use as often as all-purpose flour or semisweet chocolate.

I'm not sure where to go from here. Part of me likes to tweak, another part of me just wants to keep trying recipes until I find one that works all by itself with no tweaking.....hmmm.....I may end up running through my collection of "to try" recipes and THEN picking one to tweak.

I am beginning to think that the chewiness I seek comes from a brownie made only with cocoa. However, I am afraid that a cocoa-only brownie not have enough rich, chocolate flavor. Perhaps a cocoa-only brownie should be next on the list....

Stay tuned......DS#2 still has a fever, so there's always tomorrow..........


  1. you could always do a cocoa brownie and add chocolate chips to the batter for added chocolate flavor...

    I liked this recipe a lot.

    My Best Brownies

    1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
    3/4 c cocoa -- (penzey's natural)
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 2/3 c granulated sugar
    3/4 c butter -- melted
    2 tbsps water
    2 eggs -- lightly beaten
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    3/4 c chopped nuts

    Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x9 baking pan with release foil, lightly butter foil.
    In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt-set aside.
    In large bowl, combine sugar, water, butter. Stir in eggs & vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture & chopped nuts. spread into prepared baking pan.
    Bake in preheated oven for 18-25 minutes, or until wooden pick comes out just slightly sticky. Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan, peel off foil & cut into bars.
    Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired.

  2. Oh! Another dangerous foodie blog to drive my DH crazy! :-)

    I am enjoying your brownie adventure. I am always changing my mind on my favorite brownie recipe. My standby that I always go back to though is the one on the label of Ghirardelli's Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa. It's more of a cocoa brownie, but it has a buttery flavor- without the greasiness I associate with a lot of brownies. Hmm. Now I have to pick up a can. ;-)

  3. Hi Val and Erika.

    I did try a few variations - one a bit like you are recommending, Val - but when I started this, I was really bad at taking notes so some recipes are only vaguely familiar. Plus, there was a long lag time - better not let that happen again! Oh well, I'll just have to repeat the ones I can't remember so well.

    I'll put that recipe on my list and maybe give the Ghiardelli recipe a try. Thanks!