Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Brownies, brownies and MORE brownies!

Ever since I got the FABULOUS Baker's Edge pan for my birthday, I find that I cannot stop making brownies! And when the latest issue of Bon Appetit arrived and it had Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts on the cover, it felt like my density...err..destiny. As luck would have it, I was invited over last weekend for another potluck/game night at my friend June's house. Unfortunately, I had to spend most of the day Saturday in traffic school due to my little auto mishap back in October, so I couldn't bring anything elaborate to the party. Thus, I had the perfect excuse to try the brownies that Bon Appetit decreed the "BEST EVER" and warned that, if you made them, you would eat the whole tray!

I followed the recipe exactly and did not make any changes as is usually my way, other than to bake them in the edge pan. Our verdict? We did finish them off in short order, and they were certainly very fine brownies, and the browned butter gave it an interesting depth of flavor.  But all in all, they were not THE BEST BROWNIES IN THE WORLD or anything. In fact, and I know I may get hate mail for this, but a college friend shared her favorite brownie methodology with me, and I daresay that they were OUT OF THIS WORLD and among the best brownies I've ever made--and they were from a MIX!  Now I don't agree with his philosophy, but my friend, Tom, purports that all brownies are "the best" brownies. Maybe you'll have to make both and decide for yourself--what a delicious dilemma!

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
(Source: Bon Appetit, February 2011)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Wendy's "Enhanced" Brownies

As for the other "recipe," my friend Wendy says: "My favorite enhanced mix brownies are as follows: I start with Ghiradelli brownie mix. I add Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips and (the secret ingredient), just a little bit of Heath toffee chips in the mix, and a few more toffee chips on top (total toffee chips - in the mix and on top - is only a little more than a tablespoon). Bake until barely done. YUM."

My follow-up remarks: I've always thought that Ghirardelli made the best mixes, and baked in my edge pan, they make extra-super-fabulous brownies! The one I had on hand was dark chocolate and already had chocolate chunks in it, so I didn't add any extra. But I did use Heath milk chocolate toffee bits (like chopped-up Heath bars rather than just plain toffee bits), and I used 1/4 cup in the batter, and sprinkled another 1/4 on top. CRAZY GOOD! Thanks, Wendy! :-)

No comments: