Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies

I love brownies. They follow closely behind cookies as my favorite sweets, EVER. Now Matt, he can be pretty finicky about his sweets. He doesn't like homemade brownies. He likes the kind in a box, from a mix. So usually when I make homemade brownies he says they're okay, but box mix is better. But not this time.. No, this time I made these and his exact words after trying one was, "These are pretty good, box mix quality. And that's a compliment." Funny guy. Anyway, we all loved them. They're on the thinner side and very fudgey. These actually don't even take much more work than making them from a pre-packaged mix.
Best Cocoa Brownies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)- I used Ghiradelli, yummm
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)-I didn't use

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks farily gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. OR You can just do this step in the microwave, which is what I did and it worked fine. Just combine those ingredients in a bowl and microwave until hot. But be careful dipping you finger, you don't want to burn yours like I did mine.
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 you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
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