25 January 2011

Brownie Points

I meant to get started a while ago on this year's big project (last year it was Mormon Muffins) but--big surprise--life got in the way. Still, I finally had a chance to get started on the first recipe and wow--were these brownies worth the wait!

The challenge I've given myself is to complete at least 12 (preferably all 15) of Martha Stewart Living's "15 Years of Delicious Desserts," as seen in this issue (Feb 2006):

Why did I choose these particular recipes? Because they all looked so good and there were several I've never tried making before or wouldn't normally make (donuts, layer cakes, semifreddo...) And really--who wouldn't love a challenge with delicious rewards? I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride (and that you're inspired to do some baking yourself)! Click photos to enlarge...

The goods:
Dutch process cocoa makes these brownies extra rich:

My chocolate had a little bloom (discolouration) happening but it"s fine to still use it and it worked out well:

Melting the chocolate and butter in my version of a double boiler (bowl over a pot of simmering water):

Melty goodness:

A pile of white powder only a baker could get excited about:

In the foreground is a bottle of my homemade vanilla extract. It's ridiculously easy to make too: Cut open a few vanilla beans (you can get them inexpensively online); put in a glass bottle; fill bottle with alcohol (I like brandy but you can also use vodka, whiskey or even rum), let steep for about 6 weeks; use as needed. As you use the extract replenish the alcohol (you don't need to let it sit for another 6 weeks before using again). It smells amazing and it's ultimately cheaper than buying real vanilla extract. Also, the longer it sits the better it gets.

Sugar, eggs, and vanilla...

Beat for about four minutes...

Until creamy and pale:

Mix in the chocolate:

Add the dry ingredients:

Batter up!

Before baking:
Baked. Doesn't look a lot different, does it? But I like how the parchment paper gives it the appearance of a gift!

OMG deliciousness...

Double-Chocolate Brownies

[My notes/changes in brackets]

Makes 8

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate [you can spend more on higher quality chocolate but Baker's brand actually works very well]
  • 1/4 cup best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Coat with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt together butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat. Stir until smooth; let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until pale, about 4 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Transfer batter to prepared pan, and smooth top with an offset spatula [I don't have one so I used a rubber spatula. Messier but still okay]. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownie between edge and center comes out with a few crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not overbake.)

Let cool 15 minutes; lift out of pan, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Cut into 8 rectangles. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days [if they last that long].

Original recipe here.

My Verdict

So good. These are amazing, properly fudgy brownies (I don't get the point of cakey brownies) with a crisp, crumbly crust. I wouldn't change a thing about them except, if I'm feeling particularly decadent, to add some vanilla ice cream on the side (or just go for broke and throw on ice cream, whipped cream, and some salted caramel sauce). If the rest of the "15 best" recipes are half as good as these brownies I'd say this year's project will be a brilliant success. Highly recommended that you make these. Now.

Photos by Domicile


Lisa said...

Brownies are always such a nice sweet treat. It reminds me of my childhood when my mom would have brownies waiting after we got home from school. Of course, we didn't use to make them from scratch back then. We could definitely have used your recipe. I have a new linky on my blog every Saturday called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by this weekend and link this up.

Aspasia said...

Thank you for the comment and for the invite! I'll definitely stop by.