August 29, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies: Dense and Intense

These brownies are named "Best Cocoa Brownies."

The very first day I found the recipe for them I smiled: what a confident name for a baked-good. I printed it out. After I made them I was able to say that it is true.
They really are the Best Cocoa Brownies.

There are so many things that I can say about them (lovingly). The first is that there is absolutely, wonderfully, no way that they can be overcooked. I would invite you to try to, but there's just no sense in that. Everything about these brownies is so deliciously and decadently right that there's simply no sense in trying to get them wrong.

They are purely fudgy and deeply chocolatey. Subtle hints of bitter cocoa and fragrant notes of pure vanilla dodge consciousness. The only articulatable sensation is "Mmmmmm...."

A crispy, flaky candy top yeilds to a soft, chewy, fudgy body. Every bite is perfectly sweet and buttery. 

Once you make the Best Cocoa Brownies, the recipe will replace all others. They are the only that I will make, and that's not a limiting statement. They're simply divine.
Since their base is strong and entirely foolproof, there is room to play: Oftentimes chopped pecans and walnuts on top add texture and crunch. Other times, it's just a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

In this case, I swirled fresh raspberry jam through the top with a knife, lacing the fresh, fruity flavors through the rich chocolate batter. Summer berry goodness met the Best Cocoa Brownie. 

I cut a large, still warm piece from the pan. Just as expected, the batter clung thickly to the knife. 
Heaven had been made, my work in the kitchen done.

Best Cocoa Brownies (Ever): Recipe from
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
+ 8-inch square baking pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. 

In a large, microwave safe bowl combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Microwave on high for one minute, then stir well. Microwave again for one more minute. The mixture should be smooth and hot to the touch. Set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. 

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until it's completely incorporated. Then beat the batter hard for about a minute with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan. Top with the chopped nuts or swirl in jam or peanut butter. 

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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