Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Chocolate Brownies

I spent about a year developing this recipe as part of the Brownie Development Project (BDP) years ago at an old job. I would bring my concoctions to work and part of the deal was that if you were having something from the BDP you had to give me some feedback. It was usually positive – no one ever said anything sucked or tasted like crap (although I had a doozy in there every-so-often).

In the BDP trials I found there was a key success factor to make great, chewy and fudgy brownies: make your brownies out of fudge. This recipe is very hard not to eat while making since the initial step (making fudge) is in your nose for a while.

When I’m making these I use an 8x8 pan to get real thick, near gooey brownies. If I’m using them as a base for ice cream (either in it or for brownie sundaes) bake in a 13x9 pan.

With regards to the notes and disclaimers below, baking is one area where I do measure as slight variations can me a huge difference.

You could just stick with 60% chocolate in this recipe; no need to get technical about it. You can even use chocolate chips – Ghirardelli makes some really nice ones. “Baker’s” brand I find has a funny, sinewy taste about it so skip it.

BTW - do follow the measurements here. Although the disclaimers on the side say you can be off by 25%, with baking that doesn't follow suit.

½ pound unsalted butter
8 oz semi-sweet (60%) chocolate, chopped into coarse pieces
8 oz dark chocolate (72%), chopped into coarse pieces
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 TBS instant espresso or 1 TBS instant coffee; one shot of espresso would work well.
2 TBS water
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of flour
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
½ TSP baking powder
½ TSP salt (not kosher)

Preheat your oven to 350 for one hour.

In a double boiler over medium heat, add the butter and chocolate pieces and melt, stirring occasionally. When melted remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool. In a separate bowl forcefully mix the eggs, water, sugar, espresso, and vanilla extract all at once. Slowly mix the egg mixture into the chocolate base and further cool to room temp (about 30 min).

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. Add this in two batches to the chocolate mixture, mixing well between each addition.

For thick brownies:

Butter an 8x8 pan and lightly dust with flour. Pour the mixture into pan and set in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 then an additional 25 minutes at 300. Cool at room temperature for at least an hour. If using a 9x9 pan, reduce the last cooking time to 18 - 20 minutes. A toothpick will come out slightly sticky, with a few bits stuck to it. If it’s gooey it’s really not done.

For thin brownies:

Butter an 13x9 pan and lightly dust with flour. Pour the mixture into the pan and set in the oven at 350. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes (a toothpick should come out clean). Cool at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.


Nuts or no nuts? If you want nuts in them, walnuts are great. Add about 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the mixture when adding the flour. Almonds are great too – just make sure you toast them before doing so. Macadamia's are nice too - keep them whole so people get a big bite of one; it's a nice bonus. But nuts in brownies are like religion though: some people just don’t go for it. Dried cherries are also a nice addition.

You could also add an additional 4 oz of chocolate pieces or chips to the mixture prior to adding it to the pan. Peanut butter chips are fun here too. Skip the M&M's - bad, bad idea.

Add some heat. A ½ TSP of cayenne pepper into the flour will do the trick.

Experiment with liquors. Substitute the vanilla extract with 2 TBS of bourbon or Kahlua.

Like minty brownies? Add about three drops of peppermint extract after the vanilla.

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