Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Seriously Fudgy Brownie

Brownies belong to the category of sweet treats people get really heated up about. Cake-brownie lovers can get really mean with the fudge advocates, and vice versa. Although, side note: Are there really any cake-brownie lovers out there? Psh!

I wouldn't even put the two in the same room, and even less have them participate in a brownie tasting party. Well, that's mostly because they probably wouldn't leave any for me. In any case, brownie texture is one serious subject. You'll find articles about how to make the perfect brownie, and sometimes when you think your batch is going to be perfect...it just fails. What I find strange is that even though I admittedly have no problem raising my fist high in the air and proclaiming my love for fudge brownies, I don't really remember if the ones I ate as a child were really all that fudge-like. All I remember is that they sure were good, and I would willingly eat a whole pan of them right now. (Hey, I went to a blood drive this afternoon, so I can have twenty of anything, right? Giving a half liter of blood is a good excuse for chocolate, in my opinion.)

Up until last week, I felt like every time I made a pan of brownies, they just weren't the way I imagined. They were never fudgey (fudgy?) enough, or always undercooked if they weren't a little cakey. And then, I found it. The recipe. You might try other recipes...but I'm pretty sure you'll always go back to this one. I first saw it on Shauna's wonderful blog, Piece of Cake, and have been smitten ever since. Surprisingly, the only source of chocolate is cocoa powder, but these little guys don't disappoint. Super fudgy, super tasty, they're everything you've always asked the Easter Bunny for in a brownie.

I baked half "naked" (whoa, that sounded wrong! I meant to say that I baked half a batch without anything on top, not "half naked"), and the other half topped with peanut butter chips. I don't have a favorite since I could be seen devouring them little bite by little bite (justified by the fact that I wasn't supposed to be baking these for me), and both made me quite happy. And they'll make you happy, too. The Easter Bunny told me so.

Fantastic Brownies
adapted from Piece of Cake, adapted from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet
makes one 8x8-in pan of brownies

Note: that can mean 16 brownies, just like it can mean 4 if your name is Lucie. Just saying!

1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. plus 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 TS salt
1/2 TS vanilla extract
2 eggs, cold
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. peanut butter chips (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. 
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, though it will appear somewhat gritty. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not at all hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well-blended, add the flour and stir until all the streaks of flour disappear, then beat vigorously for 40 more strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in pan. Sprinkle with peanut butter chips, if using.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, about 35 minutes. (Shauna's version said 25 minutes, but it took a little longer for me) Let cool completely on a wire rack. Set the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes (it will make for clean cutting of the brownies). (I didn't have the freezer space for this, but it would definitely help)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.
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claudia said...

look really fudgy, moist and good!

Paris Pastry said...

I, too, have problems with finding the perfect brownie-recipe. I hate it when they're undercooked or cake-like. And to be honest, I don't even know if I like my brownies fudgy ... hmmm I must find out!

grace said...

my goodness, those are dense! fudgy doesn't even begin to describe them. they're good enough in their naked form, but the peanut butter chips on top make 'em even more appealing. great find!

Amy @ cookbookmaniac said...

These brownies look amazing. I agree with you about not finding the right brownie, they were either cakey or dry. I like mine fudgey. I have my own recipe and it is very similar to the one that you have posted. Very nice!

Ingrid said...

If have to eat a brownie it needs to be fudgy...seriously fudgy! :)

Ingrid said...

If have to eat a brownie it needs to be fudgy...seriously fudgy! :)