Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Recipe: The Best Chocolate Brownies EVER

Victorian Wisdom:
To ascertain whether a woman is passionate or not...
take a muddy dog into her parlor.

Or make her brownies and see if she swoons.

My second-all-time-favorite Goodwill find is a copy of 'Death By Chocolate' by Marcel Desaulniers - director emeritus of the Culinary Institute of America, and a man who has devoted many years of his life to a great and consuming passion - theobroma cacoa.
            This love song to the chocolate bean is choked with gorgeously lit photographs of lush, glistening, dark and fiendishly complicated desserts so deathly rich (calorie counts by slice helpfully provided on the opposing pages) that merely carrying a copy of this book through a cardiovascular ward would have a significant effect on Australian mortality statistics.
            But between recipes for Chocolate Wedlock (chocolate sponge cake, chocolate raspberry mousse, white chocolate butter cream and white chocolate ganache) and Chocolate Devastation (Chocolate whiskey-soaked raisin ice cream, mocha meringue and bittersweet ganache) and the awe-inspiring Chocolate Transportation (Cocoa meringue, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownie, chocolate ganache, mocha mousse and mocha rum sauce) we found a simple, unpretentious little recipe for chocolate brownies.
            Holy Cats!  What a brownie recipe - we were in love before they even went into the oven!  In fact, we weren't even convinced that they needed to be cooked.  We mixed, stirred, whisked, tasting at every step, and when the last spoon of  sour cream dissolved into the thick chocolate brew, we tasted one more time and sighed, our eyes glazing over and our smiles growing dreamy, and cordially invited each other to pull up a spoon.
            And if you don't stockpile the ingredients for this recipe away against the nearest rainy day, then your heart is stone and your taste buds atrophied and your sense of the fitness of things that of a small and timid dormouse.

Simply The Best Chocolate Brownie Ever

2 oz (56g) plus one teaspoon unsalted butter
1 ½  oz (42g) plus one teaspoon plain flour
1 oz (28g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
5 oz (142g) semisweet chocolate, broken up for melting (if in Australia, use Old Gold brand chocolate - the two bean strength.  If semisweet chocolate is not available, use half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate)
3 eggs
8 oz (227g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 oz (56g) sour cream
8 oz (227g) semi-sweet chocolate, broken into chunks
I personally believe that brownies are incomplete  with walnuts or pecans inside.  Mr. Tabubil claims the opposite.  If you side with me, add 8 oz chopped pecans or walnuts when you add the semisweet chocolate chunks.

Preheat the oven to 325 F (170C)

Lightly coat a 9x12 inch (or comparable) cake tin (we used a pyrex baking dish) with butter, then flour the tin with 1tsp flour, shaking out the excess.

Sift together the remaining flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk.  Mix on high until thick and white and fluffy.  If you're not worried about salmonella, at this point you can chuck the rest of the ingredients and pull out a spoon and eat sweet heaven all afternoon.  If you're determined to continue, add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until well blended.  Add the sifted ingredients, and beat until well blended.  Add the sour cream and beat until there are no streaks of white visible.

Melt the chocolate.  (If melting chocolate in a microwave, and if using both light and dark chocolate, make sure to melt them separately, and not unite them until they are completely melted.) and add to the mixer.  Mix on medium setting until combined.

Melt the butter and add it to the mixer.  Mix on medium until well combined. 
Take your time!  Mix till it's light and fluffy. Patience will be rewarded!

Add the sour cream.  Mix on medium until well combined.  

Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to mix in the chocolate chunks (and nuts, if you decide to add them.)

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, spreading evenly, including the corners.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 40 minutes  with an extra 10 minutes if you are adding nuts.  Keep an eye on this yourself, however.  (Trust the oven, not a recipe you found on the internet.)

Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool in the tin at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.  Cut into equitable portions.

Brownies are wonderful when warm, but even better when cooled and eaten a day later.  Once cooled to room temperature, these brownies can be stored in the fridge for several days before serving. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.  Because of the chocolate chunks, the brownies will probably not come out clean no matter how long you bake the brownies.  It is suggested that you pull them from the oven after 50 minutes baking time.

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