Thursday, February 16, 2012

decadent brownies

I love chocolate . . . and if you adore chocolate as much as I do, then you probably find that you're always looking for incredible, amazing, rich chocolate recipes. Recipes that will satisfy your cravings for chocolate.  
For me, they're usually the ones that call for cocoa, lots of it, as well as some sort of chocolate bar or chips that requires melting . . . which is then added to the recipe as well.  Yum! Double chocolate!
One such dessert that can satisfy my chocolate cravings is brownies; but not just any ol' brownie. I want a brownie that looks dense and shiny, not cakey or dull; and rich dark brown in color, with a texture that is moist and chewy.  
I've tried several brownie recipes over the years, trying to find the perfect one . . . and have baked a few that were almost perfect, but I was still holding out for "the one."  
Well, I recently watched an episode of Dessert First, hosted by Pastry Chef Anne Thornton.  
In this episode she shared her favorite recipe for brownies.  She referred to the phrase "death by chocolate" several times, which - of course - peeked my interest!  
Well, dear friends . . .  I might have found the perfect brownie! Chef Thornton shared that she spent several years perfecting her brownie recipe . . . and that she has!  

To begin, the base is fudge! Yes, fudge! Rich fudge.  Add a few eggs and flour ~ and voila . . . you have a truly amazing, rich brownie.  
It passed my test with flying colors! How ~ you might ask? I only needed a 2 x 2 inch square piece to satisfy my chocolate craving.
Chef Thornton's fudgy brownies are a chocolate-lovers dream come true!   

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for pan
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt your butter in a medium (or large) heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. While the butter is melting, whisk the cocoa powder, sea salt and sugar in a separate bowl. (The sugar and salt will work as abrasive agents to get any lumps out of the cocoa.) Whisk the cocoa/sugar/salt combo into the melted butter until the sugar has dissolved fully. The mixture should look like fudge and pull away from the bowl into a ball. Take off the stove and set the pan on a dishtowel on your counter. Allow the fudgy mixture to cool down until it's warm, but not hot anymore.
While that is cooling, line the bottom and sides of your 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. You want to leave about 4 inches of overhang on the 2 opposite sides. These serve as your handles to remove the brownies from the pan in 1 piece, so make sure that there is enough of the overhang for you to have a solid grip. Grease the parchment or foil well. 
Stir in the vanilla into the cooled fudge mixture to loosen it up. Add the eggs into the mixture 1 at a time, adding the second egg after the first egg is fully incorporated. The batter should look shiny and well blended. Add in your flour and stir it until it's fully incorporated. Once it looks fully blended, beat the batter vigorously for at least 45 strokes. This will not only get out any pent up stress, but it will make the brownies chewy. Fold in your chocolate chips.
Spread the very thick and fudgy brownie batter evenly in the lined pan with an offset spatula or your greased hands. 
Pop the brownies in the oven and bake until they get a nice crust and your house smells like brownies, 30 to 35 minutes. Let them cool completely on a rack or a dishtowel on your counter.  

Bon Appetit!

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