Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Celebratory Pan of Brownies

The new oven is here! I can bake again! You cannot imagine the relief!

Okay, maybe you can. It’s not that unusual to be temporarily without an oven. But it seemed that I was deprived for a long time. And then I was sick in bed the day it was delivered. And then the delivery truck got a flat tire, so it was delivered later than expected. And then I went out of town for the weekend. Finally Monday arrived! But what to bake?

How about some no-brainer brownies? Brownies are kind of a no-brainer anyway, since you can please so many people (including myself) with a pan of them. And these brownies are pretty easy to throw together. They get their chocolate from cocoa rather than melted chocolate, so there’s a step I didn’t have to deal with and I could make them from what I had on hand.

But, oh, who would have thought that the stuff I had on hand could be made into something sooooo delicious! Nicely moist. Somewhere between cake-y and fudge-y. Super chocolaty. Definitely worthy of a celebration. We enjoyed them just a bit warm (celebrations like this just can’t wait, you know), and they got lots of enthusiastic thumbs-ups from my fabulous co-workers the next day.

I adapted these from The Ultimate Brownie Book by Bruce Weinstein, barely changing anything. I did add a bit of instant espresso powder, since I’ve become a believer that it really does enhance just about anything chocolaty. I also added a heaping cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. What does “heaping” mean? That’s entirely up to you, but I wouldn’t recommend skimping on a celebratory pan of brownies.

Cocoa Chocolate Chip Brownies
Adapted from The Ultimate Brownie Book by Bruce Weinstein

If you’re an ice cream sundae enthusiast, I really think these could be used to make a fabulous brownie sundae.

1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted so all the lumps are removed
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 heaping cup bittersweet chocolate chips.

1. Prepare the oven to bake the brownie by placing a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheating to 350 F. Prepare a 13 x 9 inch baking pan by greasing it well with your preferred method. I use a Pyrex glass pan and lots of nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder in a medium-size bowl. Whisk together to combine thoroughly.

3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer), combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium speed until pale yellow in color. This should take a few minutes.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly beating in each egg before adding the next. After adding the last egg, beat for 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla extract.

5. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir gently just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Try not to beat the mixture and deflate it. Stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. The batter will be thick. Gently spread it to the edges of the pan.

7. Bake at 350 F in the lower third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

8. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. For best results, cut into squares and serve from the pan with an offset spatula. Between you and me, these can be enjoyed while still a bit warm when the chocolate chips are still a little melted.

One year ago: Butter Pecan Pancakes

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