Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rich and Beautiful Brownies

Need I say more? I enjoy trying out some of the odder recipes in Maida's book, but I always look forward to making brownies. Every one of her brownie recipes is delicious, and I would have to do a very dangerous side-by-side comparison of the recipes to determine which is my favorite. This one is up there with some of my other favorites: it's got lots of walnuts and a nice coffee kick, and it has a really nice fudgy top layer.
And, like other brownie recipes, this one comes with an important requirement: Find someone to give these to. Brownies really should not be kept in my house. Fortunately, we were able to send some home with dinner party guests, give some to the student workers here at the Abbey, and still have enough to take back to Paris for Julia and her friends. A 9x13 pan of really rich brownies makes a LOT!
So here we have the Brownie Usual Suspects. Note that one layer involves unsweetened chocolate--it's really the standard All-American brownie, I think--and the other involves semisweet, cream, and a lot of egg yolks.

Here's the first layer. Note all the walnutty goodness.

Layer 2 is all thick and rich and chocolatey. You can also see another advantage of this recipe: two bowls to lick. And even though that's two bowls, each mixture is super easy to make. If you have a microwave, they'll take 5 minutes each. On the stove it's a bit longer, but not by much.

The finished product. I forgot to flip it right-side-up. Oops. It still tasted great.

The brownies that made it to Julia. If I were a better photographer, you might be able to see the layers in them. That being said, the layers are pretty subtle. You might almost say they're like frosted brownies without the mess.

Here's the recipe. Make this for a large group of chocolate lovers.

Rich and Beautiful Brownies

Bottom Layer:
2.5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
Pinch salt
1 t. instant espresso
1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c. (2.5 oz.) unsifted flour
6 oz. (1-1/2 c.) walnuts, in medium-sized pieces

Heat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment, then put some butter in it. Put the pan in the heating oven for a minute or two, then brush the melted butter everywhere. Set aside. Get out 2 smallish saucepans or two medium-sized microwave-safe bowls. Melt the chocolate and butter in one of those pans or bowls, then add the coffee and salt. Take the pan off the stove if you’re using the stove and stir in the vanilla and sugar, then the eggs one at a time, followed by the flour and walnuts. Pour that mixture into the prepared pan and set aside while you make the top layer.

Top Layer:
4 oz. (1 stick) butter
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 T. (0.9 oz.) sugar
1/2 c. (4 oz.) cream
Pinch salt
1 t. instant espresso
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
4 egg yolks

In the second saucepan or bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. Be a bit more careful this time because semisweet chocolate burns more easily than does unsweetened. Add the sugar, cream, salt, espresso, and vanilla and stir well to mix. Take the pan off the heat, if you’re using the stove, and stir in the egg and the yolks, one at a time, until the mixture is very smooth. Pour that mixture over the first brownie layer. Can you feel the chocolate?
Put in the oven and bake for 28-30 minutes (check after 22 minutes or so; you don’t want to overbake) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan, and then chill in the fridge or freezer for an hour or so. Turn out the brownies onto a board or cookie sheet and then flip them over so they’re right side up. Keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. Cut them into tiny squares and give them away as fast as possible.
(p.s. If you want to go all the way over the top, serve these with salted butter caramel sauce. And, hell, maybe some vanilla ice cream. You won't be sorry!)

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