Monday, March 15, 2010

Cristina's Brownies

Last week was busy in terms of both cooking and work. We had some of our "château" group over for dinner one night, I made couscous for all the students the next night, and made dessert for a faculty potluck the next. All this among editing clients with trying texts and difficult deadlines. It just makes me want to alliterate. And among all this came brownies and ice cream.

I made the brownies for the small group of students as a dessert. It was a large pan of brownies, but I figured, "Hey, college students! They'll eat this in no time flat!" Somehow I overestimated their appetite for brownies. Most of them, while telling me, "these are the best brownies ever!" ate TINY little pieces. One girl did what I call a "Claire": took a bite, complimented me extravagantly, and left the rest on her plate. Claire has avoided dinnertime lectures for years with this technique...
So now, I'm stuck with a whole lot of brownies. A whole lot of DELICIOUS brownies (because no matter what these students' behavior would have you think, these are awesome brownies). Brownies mocking my Lenten no-snacking, no-seconds resolve. Those brownies had to go. So I pulled a Maida Heatter: everyone who crossed my path for 24 hours got brownies. I don't know exactly how many people I gifted, but it was a lot. And then there was just a small square left. And then Sami howled with disappointment because Claire had beaten him to the Breakfast Brownie. No one will ever say I don't feed my family right!

So, the technical details of this brownie: it's a cocoa brownie, which makes it easier for me. Unsweetened chocolate is not easily available here. And I had recently made these brownies, which are quite similar. Except that Maida's brownies are over the top. Three sticks of butter. Seven eggs. A pound of walnuts. These are not brownies for the faint of heart.

Normal brownie batter barely makes it halfway up the sides of the pan. This recipe goes way up, almost to the top. It takes almost an hour to bake these babies (but it only takes about 10 minutes to put them together).

Big, thick, larger-than-life brownies. Take them away, please!

Here's the recipe. You could cut it in half if you're not planning to make friends with an entire village (or student population).

Cristina's Brownies

12 oz. butter
1-1/4 c. (3.75 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t. salt
Scant 3 cups (19 oz.) sugar
2 t. vanilla
7 large eggs
1-1/4 c. (6.25 oz.) flour
1 lb. walnut halves or large pieces (make sure these are fresh)

Heat the oven to 350. Get out a 13x9-inch pan and line it with foil or parchment; butter the foil/parchment. Put the butter, cocoa, and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave it about 1-1/2 minutes, until the butter is melted. Stir it carefully (the cocoa likes to fly around) until smooth. Add the sugar and then the vanilla and stir; the mixture will be grainy, but that will change. Now add the eggs one at a time, stirring just until incorporated after each. Stir in the flour and then the walnuts. Pour all that into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out not quite clean. Cool completely and then freeze for best cutting results. Cut into fairly small pieces since these are quite thick. Feeds many, many people.