Thursday, October 17, 2002

brownie near perfection achieved. . .

as promised, the recipe for the near-perfect brownie. all it lacks is a great shiny, crackly sugar crust top. this recipe develops a slight crust, but not pronounced. and i do stress develops.

while it's possible to slice these 1 hour after baking, if you do, you'll get a cake-y type brownie with a gooey, molten center. at 4 hours, the brownies have a little chew. pop in the fridge after 1 hour cooling, and slice the next morning to see the wonder of fudgy chocolate-y goodness they will become. so fight your family and friends off if at all possible and let them rest overnight for best results. these are easy, easy, easy 20-mins.-to-make, 30-mins-to-bake wonders. mr. right wasn't too impressed with them at the 1-hr. mark but judged them amazing and excellent the next day.

preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil an 8x8 pan:

3/4 cup cocoa ( i used King Arthur's Double Dutch Dark for its deep, rich color)
1-1/2 cups regular granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered or confectioner's sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (again, i used King Arthur's organic)
1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasted (optional -- i used almonds from sahadi's, but pecans, walnuts, pistachios, heck whatever!)
1 cup to 1-1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (i used callebaut callets)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs (i used pete & gerry's organic)
1/2 cup oil (i used salute sante grapeseed)
2 teaspoons almond extract ( i used watkins but you might try boyajian)
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey vanilla
1 tablespoon water

combine dry ingredients in your stand mixer, attached the beater and flour shield, and mix lightly at speed 2 for 1 or 2 minutes, until dry ingredients are evenly combined. add oil, flavorings, water, eggs with mixer running. mix at speed 3 or 4 for 2 mins. or until all ingredients are well-incorporated. you should get a wonderful tar-black sludge.

resist the urge to lick the beater and stick your face into the mixing bowl. spread the brownie mixture evenly into the pan, and pop into the oven to bake for 30 to 35 mins. you may want to rotate the pan if your oven has hot spots. bake just until the brownies have cooked on top and the center springs back gently when lightly touched. don't overbake! it's easy to do! and don't rely on the "toothpick in the center coming out clean" test here -- all the chocolate chips in the batter will make this test useless.

some people find that the edges of the brownies begin to harden and burn before the top has firmed up. make sure to use a light-colored metal pan. still have problems? in this case you may find a specialty tool of help: the baking strip.

dampen this little puppy, tie it around the outside of the pan, and it will help keep your edges from over-cooking while the center bakes, as well as making sure the brownies rise evenly and have a level top. or heck, be low-tech and use a wet tea-towel and a safety pin. whatever works! finally, if you find you can't get the brownies out of the pan nicely, line the pan with a piece of aluminum foil next time. let the foil edges overhang a bit for easy lifting.

to make these espresso brownies, you can replace the almond extract and water above with an equal amount of espresso and add 1 tablespoon espresso powder. or use your some of your favorite liqueur instead. you'll be glad you did. . .

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