It won’t always be chocolates and sweets, people, I promise, but I thought I’d start with the recipe for several reasons. Brownies are easy. Brownies are tasty. Brownies are inexpensive crowd-pleasers. Besides, if you’re not into brownies, then I have no use for you. (or vice versa, I suppose)
I had this recipe flagged in its source – Nick Malgieri’s awesomely fancy & fun Chocolate, but when going through my recipes I found I had also emailed it to myself when it was published in the NYTimes.
NM’s recipe is pretty easy, and I think its charm is apparent once we gaze at the ingredient list; instead of those unsweetened chocolate squares or cocoa powder or a blend, it calls for HALF A POUND of melted chocolate:
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate (1 1/3 cups)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- optional: 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
Melt butter in saucepan over low, stir in chopped chocolate, mixing until glossy and smooth. Let cool slightly.
In separate (large) bowl, whisk 4 eggs. Whisk in sugars, salt, vanilla. Stir in melted chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. Add nuts, if using.
Grease a 9×13″ pan well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, “until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm.”
Cool pans on rack. Wrap pan in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature or refrigerated until the next day.
How I screwed up so you don’t have to: Since I do not have a 9×13″, I made mine in two smaller ceramic baking dishes – one 7×5″, one 8×8″. I added nuts to the 7×5, and lined the bottom of the 8×8 with parchment, as NM suggests. I took the 7×5 out after 30 minutes, and the 8×8 after 35. NM also says to melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler; I heated them over low direct heat and had no problem. A microwave would work fine, too.
Results: Delicious! Since this is not The Incompetent Kitchen I wouldn’t start with a failure. Normally, I would not have followed the “keep at room temperature until the next day” and would have consumed as soon as possible, but it was late, I fell asleep, and didn’t test that aspect. Textures of both brownies were excellent – not chewy exactly, not fudgy exactly, but rich and deep in chocolate flavor. The brownies stayed moist over the next few days, covered in plastic wrap. They work fabulously both with and without the walnuts. Also – I ended up finding the parchment more annoying than helpful or neat; the brownies in the pan that was simply buttered came out perfectly with a spatula. NM notes the recipe is easily doubled if you have a 12×18″ commercial pan; it seems also easy to halve in an 8×8 or 9″ circle pan (just check after 30 min)
For the record, you can use salted butter and just forgo adding the salt. I used Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate from a pound plus bar. I like my fancy chocolate, but these are dire economic times. Shop smart, peoples. And try these easy brownies. You probably have everything you need in your pantry right now.