Brownies, Probably The Final Version

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Remember how I said I was on a mission to find the perfect brownie recipe? I nearly gave up. And come on, if that Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate box mix is nearly as good as any recipe I’ve ever tried, why bother? Here’s why – some of us bake brownies for the sole purpose of licking the bowl at the end. No matter how the brownies bake up, boxed brownie batter is NEVER as good as scratch. I’ve done the experiment so just trust me on this one. But something happened when I wandered away from the batter and actually ate this brownie. I think I may have found the final version.

The original version of this recipe was created to fill an 8-inch square baking pan. But why would you do that? Can’t you find some friends, or co-workers, or graduate students who would be willing to share a 9×13 pan with you?

Brownies
adapted from The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (5.75 ounces if you use a food scale)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (I prefer Ghiradelli)
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (lately I have been using Trader Joe’s brand but I bet Baker’s would be fine)
20 tablespoons butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 cup chopped toasted nuts, if you like

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Fit a sheet of aluminum foil into a 9 x 13 inch pan and up and over two sides so you can use the foil overhang as handles to pull the cooked brownie out of the pan. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

Gently melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates and butter in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted, stirring frequently and being very careful to not scorch the chocolate. You could use a double boiler on the stove top instead of the microwave. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue to whisk until the mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle nuts over the top (if you are using them) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with wet crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, the brownies are overcooked. Bummer.

Let brownies cool in the pan on a cooling rack. When ready to serve, lift brownie from the pan using aluminum foil handles. Place brownie on counter and cut into squares.

Tips:
Did you know that it is easier to cut brownies with a plastic knife? This eliminates the sticking problem.
You may have noticed that I recommend sprinkling the nuts over the top rather than stirring them into the batter. Cook’s Illustrated pointed out that nuts tend to steam and become a little soggy when incorporated into the batter. If you place them on top they stay nice and crunchy. If you like softer nuts then stir them in. Or leave them out altogether. I won’t tell.
If you are a misanthrope and don’t want to share your 9 x 13 pan of perfect brownies then cut the recipe in half, bake for 35 to 45 minutes and enjoy the 8-inch square batch all by yourself.

Eat Your Heart Out

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