Brownies and chocolate chip cookies- they say- are America’s contribution to the dessert world- and boy! what a contribution! I was reading about brownies the other day (like I mentioned before–I’m a baking nerd) and was surprised to find out that traditionally brownies had no cocoa in them. In fact, the “brown” in the brownies was from the molasses that bakers added to the batter. I thank the lord for the person who decided to try making them with chocolate- he/she must have definitely gone to heaven for giving so much happiness to the world! 🙂 🙂
For a while I had been wanting to make brownies, but I don’t possess a 9 x 13″ pan (or so I thought). Few days back my friend gave birth to a baby girl! (I know….awwwwwww!) When she came back home from the hospital, my friend and I decided to pay her a visit. I couldn’t think of anything better than a batch of freshly baked brownies to take for her, and would you know, as luck would have it- I had a 9 x 13″ Pyrex glass pan sitting in the cupboard all this while without me ever realizing it (I knew it was there- I just did not know that it was 9 x 13″—-!!!!). So I set out, with all ingredients in place, to spread happiness with freshly baked brownies.
Now, different people like their brownies baked differently- some like it cakey, some fudgy, some gooey, some dark, some nutty, others can’t stand the nuts. Well, as for me, I like them fudgy, gooey, crispy-crunchy on the top with lots of walnuts and that’s exactly what this recipe gave me.
source: Maida Heatter’s great book of desserts
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I was out of chocolate, instead I substituted each ounce of chocolate called for with 3 tbsp of cocoa plus 1 tbsp butter)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces ( 2 generous cups) walnuts (the recipe doesn’t call for it but I toasted mine at 400° F for about 9 minutes)
5 eggs graded “large”
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp powdered instant espresso
3 3/4 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups sifted unbleached flour
Adjust an oven rack one third up from the bottom and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with aluminium foil.
Now, to butter the foil, place a piece of butter (additional to that in ingredients) in the pan, and put the pan in the oven. when the butter is melted, use a pastry brush or a piece of crumpled plastic wrap to spread the butter all over the foil. Set the prepared pan aside.
Place the chocolate and the butter in the top of a large double broiler over hot water on moderate heat, or in a 4-6 cup heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and the butter are melted. Stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla and almond extracts, salt, espresso, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes.
On low speed add the chocolate mixture (which may still be warm) and beat only until mixed. Then add the flour and again beat on low speed only until mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Stir in the nuts.
Spoon the mixture in the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan front to back once during the baking to insure even baking. At the end of 35 minutes the cake wil have a firm crust on top, but if you insert a toothpick in the middle it will come out wet and covered with chocolate. Nevertheless, it is done. DO NOT BAKE ANY LONGER, else you wont get that magical fudge taste.
Remove the pan from the oven; let stand until cool. (To stop the brownies from baking in the pan after taking them out of the oven, I generally put them over a pan of ice cold water for 20 minutes). Cover the pan with a cookie sheet and invert the pan an the sheet. Remove the pan and foil lining. Cover the cake with wax paper and another cookie sheet and invert again, leaving the cake right side up.
The baked cake should be refrigerated for at least a few hours, or overnight, or frozen for an hour or two, before it is cut into bars.
For cutting th cake, take a long, heavy knife with a sharp blade, either serrated or straight. Cut the cake into quarters. Cut each quarter in half, cutting through the long sides. Finally cut each piece into 4 bars, cutting through the long sides. (These are better in narrow bar shapes than in squares!)
These freeze perfectly well and can be served very cold or at room temperature or as how my husband likes it- microwaved for 10-15 seconds and served with vanilla ice cream!