Cook.Bake.Eat.Write.

Archive for the ‘Brownies and Bars’ Category

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It’s Labor Day weekend here, and guess what—it’s sunny. And warm. Crazy!

No big plans for the long weekend. The family was down from Portland all last week—the family-fun marathon ended only Wednesday—so I’m taking it easy.

I’m not being completely anti-social, though (^_^”) My friend invited me to a barbecue she and her boyfriend are throwing. And my contribution for the occasion? Brownies. Fudgy-hazelnut-dark chocolate brownies actually.

Though I had originally planned on using my stand-by recipe from Martha Stewart, I ended up having to try a new one—one that doesn’t require any cocoa (forgot to pick some up).

The recipe is from Emiline over at (Visions of) Sugar Plum. It’s different from any other I’ve tried, as it requires one to place the direct-from-the-oven brownies into ice water and then into the freezer for an hour. The mixing process was also a bit simpler—no messing with bain maries; butter and chocolate are melted directly in a saucepan.

OMG—they are incredible. Sharp, intense, rich and luxurious. When I took them out of the freezer, I was afraid they would be frozen solid through but after cutting them into squares and tasting them, I realized they were anything but. Velvety smooth fudge in the middle with chopped hazelnuts throughout. The hazelnuts really add texture as well as cut through the intensity of the dark chocolate a bit (but definitely don’t take away from it either).

My verdict? Freezing the brownies is such a good idea—you have a chilled brownie that is super dense and holds a nice shape. Here’s hoping they hold up on the bus, light-rail and walk to the barbecue!

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Fudgy-Hazelnut-Dark Chocolate Brownies (Adapted from a recipe by Emiline)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup organic unsalted butter

14 oz. organic 70% dark chocolate

1 cup organic all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large organic free-range eggs

1 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 cup organic sugar cane)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup organic hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11×8-inch baking dish/pan with foil. Coat foil with shortening/non-stick spray/butter etc.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat off, and stir in chocolate, until melted. Set aside pan, to cool slightly.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat together eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla, for 4 minutes. (I did this by hand—exhausting (-.-“)—and experienced no problems.)

Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in melted chocolate, until combined.

Stir in flour until just combined.

Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, evenly. Bake at 375 degrees F, for 23-25 minutes. Plunge pan into a larger pan filled with ice water. When brownies have cooled off a bit, freeze until cold, about 1 hour. Slice into bars.

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What makes a good brownie? Though everyone seems to have a particular preference when it comes to these little squares, I think all would agree that a fudgy moist base and a flaky top are key. I’ve tried more than a few recipes and have definitely eaten more than my fair share of these little fudgy darlings–so I would say I recognize a good brownie when I see and eat it! The recipe below is everything a brownie should be–rich, dark chocolatey, fudgy in the middle with that wafer-thin layer of flakiness on top. Doesn’t get better than that. 

In my experience, I have found a few elements crucial to brownie baking success.

1) USE GOOD 70% DARK CHOCOLATE.

2) USE BUTTER. People, please be reasonable. If you’re on a diet, don’t eat brownies.

3) Let the brownies cool overnight at room temperature. They’ll cut better that way.

Anyway, I’m not really sure anymore where I got this recipe from (Update: I looked–it’s from Martha). I’ve made them several times now–passing them out at work, giving them to hubby to take to work–and have heard no complaints! As for the nuts and chocolate, I usually play around with different varieties and companies. In terms of nuts, I’ve used pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts (walnuts are still my favorite–though pecans taste mighty fine too!). In terms of chocolate, I’ve tried 70 and even 90% dark from Cadbury, Lindt and Valhrona. My advice is if it tastes good by itself, it’ll taste good baked too.

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Brownies with Nuts (Martha Stewart)

6 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter

6 0z (170g) good quality 70% dark chocolate

1/4 cup good quality cocoa

3/4-1 cup plain flour (I use 3/4 for a fudgier brownie)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup-3/4 cup fine sugar (I use 1/2 c.)

2 eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla

1 handful nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio, pecans, almond), chopped

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8 inch square pan with butter and parchment, for easy removal.

2) Melt in a bain marie butter, chocolate and cocoa powder. Set aside and allow to cool.

3) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine the sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat until pale and has doubled in volume – roughly 3 to 4 minutes. Quickly, but thoroughly, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar foam. Once combined, add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

4) Pour batter into prepared baking pan, making sure to even out the top. Bake for 30 minutes if you want that super fudgy brownie, or otherwise 35 minutes. To test the brownie, insert and remove a toothpick into the brownie. It should have moist crumbs clinging to its sides.

5) Once the brownie is adequately baked, let it cool in the pan overnight before cutting.

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  • Fudgy Brownies for a BBQ « Cook.Bake.Eat.Write.: [...] I had originally planned on using my stand-by recipe from Martha Stewart, I ended up having to try a new one—one that doesn’t requir
  • Mama Leah: Well, my darling, I am extremely impressed and inspired. I, of course, don't have one iota of the culinary skills that you have (except for baking, b
  • saffronandbasil: Thanks for the recipe. By the way, LOVE LOVE your site.