I’ve often been told by AK that I don’t value simple, basic and classic desserts too much. Even we go out for dinner, I’ll often skip dessert because nothing on the menu calls my name. And unlike AK, I’m not compulsive about dessert. I don’t have to have it as a course of habit. I need to find something that calls out my name. But the truth is, that it doesn’t have to be something complicated or exotic. Just well made.
I would kill for a good creme caramel or a chocolate brownie – just not when it smells eggy or tastes like chocolate sponge cake respectively.
My problem with most brownies is that they are either too cake-y or too cocoa powder-y or wholly dominated by walnuts. So far, my favourite brownie has been an Oreo Brownie from an old Australian Weekly magazine that I have. But that’s before I met Smitten Kitchen’s Favourite Brownie. I decided to try them out on Friday, when AK’s cousins announced that they would come home for coffee and dessert before we caught a very late night show of The Expendables 2! I figured the caffeine and chocolate high would sustain us if the action didn’t. When I tasted the brownie warm, I didn’t see why they were Deb’s (SK) favourite. I mean they were delicious but my heart didn’t sing!
So I packed the leftovers in an airtight box and put them in the fridge. When I had a piece for breakfast the next morning, I had a complete change of heart. And my heart was definitely singing. Deb was right and having them cold was the most amazing experience. E.V.E.R. They were perfectly chocolate-y, moist, dense and chewy.
Without further ado, here’s the low-down.
Here’s what I used (very slightly modified from SK’s original):
100 gms semi-sweet chocolate (Originally 85 gms unsweetended – but semi-sweet was all I had)
100 gms butter
1 cup granulated sugar (original called for 1-1/3 cup but I was using semi-sweet chocolate and decided to cut down on the sugar; I felt I couldn’t have cut down another 1/4 cup)
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt, if you’re using unsalted butter
(Disclaimer – the making photos are from my phone being balanced in 1 hand while I baked)
Here’s how I made them:
Putting my oven to pre-heat at 180 C/ 350 F, I prepared an 8×8″ baking pan. I had a glass Borosil one so I buttered-papered-buttered-floured it.
Then I chopped up the chocolate. The smaller you chop the chocolate, the faster it will melt.
I fashioned a double boiler (smaller saucepan set over a larger one that contained about 2 inches of water) and added the butter and chocolate to it. Setting the contraption on the stove, on medium heat, I stirred the mixture till it melted and became a smooth sauce.
While melting chocolate (more so when there’s no butter added), it’s important to make sure that the vessel containing the chocolate and spoon being used to stir it are completely dry. Even a drop of water can ruin it. Needless to stay, no steam or splashes of water from the bottom vessel should touch the chocolate. Or so I’ve read in a few chocolate cookbooks. I never tried to defy the warning!
Oh and I’ve never melted chocolate any other way, but apparently you can do it in the microwave too, 30 sec bursts and stirring between each.
Anyhow, taking the chocolate mix off the stove, I added the sugar and stirred violently to combine. I thought the sugar would melt and smoothen but it didn’t. (Our granulated sugar has much larger crystals than the American kind, which could be the reason). But I decided not to worry about the non-dissolved sugar crystals in the chocolate.
Adding the vanilla, I violently stirred some more!
Making sure my violent stirring had cooled down the chocolate mixture to warm from piping hot, I cracked in the eggs and stirred – one at a time. The mixture thickened slightly.
Lastly, I added the flour and stirred to combine.
I spooned the mixture into the prepared dish and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean from the centre.
Allowing it to cool for about half hour, I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top to finish it off.
When I cut the brownies into squares and lifted them out of the pan, they were sticking to the bottom and falling apart slightly. I wondered if I should have baked them for another 5 minutes. But when I had them cold, they held together beautifully.
So I think the trick is in cooling them completely before cutting and serving. Possibly even refrigerate for a while (and re-heating them for those who prefer it warm). But I’m definitely sticking with the chilled brownie. I don’t think I’m ever going to have a warm brownie with ice-cream again. It would just spoil everything…
Here’s another look at these beauties, lest you’ve forgotten what they looked like.
Coming Soon: Banana-Brownie-Milkshake (made with this leftover brownie)