Hello, everyone. I made Special Brownies yesterday. No, not the ones that you find in a college dorm room or on the menu of Amsterdam's coffeeshops, but just real. good. brownies. I've been looking, searching, hunting for a good recipe, only to be left with flavorless or cakey imitations. But no longer will I chew on bland and insipid brownies. No longer will I swallow eggy cakes. I have found the BAKED brownie.
The Baked Bakery in NYC. I'm sure you've heard of them, if you're as "hip" as I am in the baking world. (Totally and utterly kidding about this. I am not hip, nor does one have to be in order to be a good baker.) Anyways. They really are a cool bakery, though. Their baked goodies not only get lots of raves about how delicious it is, their stuff just looks oh-so-stylish too. I really like their new cookbook and I'll probably be purchasing it real soon, but for now, I'm just going to be a super sneak and copy their recipe with a pen and paper at the book store.
Yes, I am a recipe thief. But you must understand that I've been really wanting a perfect brownie recipe, and the one in their book REALLY stood out. Maybe it was the way they described their own masterpiece, but it really convinced me! It uses both dark chocolate bars and dark cocoa powder, is almost a one-bowl recipe, and implements a strict "no-overbeat, no-overbake" rule. And when followed properly, you'll get the perfect brownie: dense, chocolatey, and moist.
The recipe follows a fairly easy procedure, but whenever they get all "DONT OVERBEAT!!" on me, I must admit I get a bit nervous. I've had cases where I underbeated things and the thing was a failure. How much beating is necessary? Luckily, this recipe is pretty descriptive and seems to make an effort to let you know when it is time to stop. First off, they divide the 5 eggs into two steps so that it's properly mixed in, they let you know when you should stop beating ("When the flour mixture is only slightly visible), and finally, the whole thing is done by hand. You don't need to bust out your handy hand-mixer or your trophy kitchenaid. Your hand and trusty whisk/spatula will do. :)
The result is one fantastic brownie. Lots of chocolate in there. Lots of moisture. Lots of real brownie-ness. I give it an A! (Why not the "+" in there? Ah... It's missing just ONE component that I truly desire in a brownie: chewy. It's not chewy. It's like melt-in-your-mouth soft and tender, but not chewy. We all know how important chewy is.) But I'm glad that after my third try, I can post up a proud brownie recipe here! Please! I recommend!
Okay okay. Now that we talked about wonderful recipes and baked goods up there. Can we just discuss about one thing? Prices. Costs. Expenses. Expensive. Is it just me or is baking taking quite a toll on the wallet? Phew. I don't know how y'all do it! I'm a big snob when it comes to baking ingredients--but not even, because I think all bakers know how important it is to get the best materials you can get your hands on! We can't settle on Baker's chocolate if I want to make great tasting brownies. We can't just buy cheapo butter for our butter cakes! So as I'm dishing out $18 on a chocolate bar and $6 for a block o' butter, I do sometimes wonder if what I'm doing is the smartest thing in the world. I've been looking online for deals on good chocolate, but shipping to Canada is always such a markup, let alone have shipping available to here. One thing that really kills me is when for cupcake orders, people ask for discounts. I know if I was in their position, I would probably look for ways to cut down on prices too, but really, as a private-at-home baker, it's really hard on me too! I'm not a big bakery where I get all my stuff in bulk and cheap, where I get lots of hands helping me either. It's just me! I get mt stuff retail mostly, cuz the bulk stores don't have the best ingredients sometimes, and when I say a price, I've calculated all that's gone in there. But I guess another good thing about my home "business" is that I can always say no too. :) Anywhooo. Lots and lots of rambling here. If you have any tips for me for purchasing ingredients or any personal opinions on rising butter prices, give me a shout!! I wanna hear from you!
the baked brownie
from the baked cookbook
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 oz dark chocolate coarsely chopped
2 sticks butter, cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9x13x2 pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
3. Put chocolate, butter, espresso powder in a heat resistant bowl over a pan with simmering water, but not bowl touching the water directly. Softly whisk until completely melted and smooth. Turn off heat, but keep bowl over the water and add sugars. Whisk until completely combined. Then remove bowl from pan. Bring the mixture to room temperature.
4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mix and whisk until combined. Add remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add vanilla extract and stir until combined. Do not overbeat at this point, or the brownie will be cakey and stiff.
5. Sprinkle flour mix into the chocolate mix. Using a spatlua, fold the flour mix until just a bit of flour is visible.
6. Pour batter evenly onto the pan and smooth the top. Bake in center of the oven for 30 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through the time until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Don't overbake and check consistently. They say "an overbaked brownie is not a BAKED brownie". Cool completely to serve.
The brownie can be kept airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several factors. 1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth. 2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter, and 3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been overbaked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.