Second best cocoa brownies

Cocoa Brownies

Substituting margarine in the cocoa brownies was a bad thing to do. Bad. To save a few dollars? What was I thinking? Slap me with a pink spatula if I ever again threaten to think of such a thing. Little brown rectangles of regret. Understand this, it’s not that they’re not tasty. I just can’t forget how they taste with all butter. It’s like being on a date with with a perfectly nice guy but! There is someone you love and you can’t stop thinking about him.

So you look at your date, smile bravely, and try your best to have a good time. I wouldn’t wish such an experience on anyone. Be with the one you love, okay? Then use all butter to make these, and there will be nothing more you could ask for.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies, or 12 long rectangles

140 grams unsalted butter
240 grams sugar
82 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
65 grams all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 160°C. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. Alternatively, microwave it at 30-second intervals, stirring to ensure even heat distribution.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. (Place in the freezer after cool for clean cuts.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.


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