Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brownies Galore!

I recently promised some friends that I would make them brownies.  All of the brownie recipes I had bookmarked to make here were a little fussy and what I really wanted to make for them was a richer, more traditional brownie than the Mexican chocolate brownies I plan on making for myself later.  So I started looking around for some decadent (but still traditional) brownie recipes and I kept stumbling across blogs that referenced two different brownie recipes - these Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies from Baking Illustrated and the brownies from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook.  I had never heard of Baking Illustrated before, but once I realized it was published by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, which is a phenomenal publication, I knew I had to try the recipe out.  But at the same time I have been reading and hearing about the Baked cafe in Brooklyn and how great their brownies are, so I really wanted to try them too.  And then I decided to just go ahead and make both.  

I wanted to jazz at least one batch of the brownies up a little so I added some dark chocolate and mint chips that I recently unearthed in our kitchen cabinet to the Baking Illustrated recipe.  The baking supplies are up on the highest shelf (and our highest shelf is a good 6 plus feet up there) and unless I climb on the counter so I am eye level with the cabinet, things tend to get lost in there.  I bought the dark chocolate and mint chips after Christmas to make some brownies and then promptly forgot about them.  Oops.  The Baked brownies already had a touch of espresso powder in them so I decided to leave them as my "plain" brownies. Since I modified the Baking Illustrated brownies by adding mint extract and mint chips, I'm not exactly sure how the basic recipes would fare in a side-by-side comparison.  The Baked brownies are fudgier and very buttery.  I think the addition of brown sugar also makes them taste a little richer.  The Baking Illustrated brownies were a little thicker and more cakey in texture.  I actually preferred the Baking Illustrated brownies, both texturally and flavorwise, to the Baked brownies, but that's probably partially due to the fact that I have always found plain brownies to be a little boring.  I love it when brownies have a little something extra to take them to the next level.  However, I do admit that the Baked brownies make a dynamite brownie sundae when paired with the Jeni's Salty Caramel ice cream I picked up at Dean & Delucas yesterday. Sooooo good.

Recipes after the jump!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Baking Illustrated (by the editors of Cook's Illustrated)
May 2000

Ingredients :
7 oz. Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pieces
3 tbsp Ghiradelli unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Nestle dark chocolate and mint chips

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide.  Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan.  Fit the second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet.  Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.  The foil overhangs will help you lift the brownies out of the pan.

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Add chocolates and butter.  Melt, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In a separate medium bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt with a handheld mixer until combined, about 15 seconds.  Whisk cooled warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Stir in flour with spatula until just combined.  Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners and level surface with rubber spatula.  Tap pan lightly on counter to release any air bubbles and help the batter even out.  

Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.  Completely cool brownies on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.  Remove brownies from pan using foil handles.  Cut into squares and serve. 

The Baked Brownie
Baked – New Frontiers in Baking

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13 inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars.  Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.  The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.  Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until combined.  Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be too cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

**Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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