Monday, January 10, 2011

Raspberry Brownies

There's a TV show here called "I hate Sundays". The idea is that Sundays are boring: nothing is open, there's nothing to do, the weekend is almost over. I've never seen the show, but I'm guessing that it suggests distractions for Sunday haters.
Personally, I kind of like Sundays here. I get up at first light, which is around 8:00 in the winter, get myself ready, and head out to the Sunday market, which is always lively and fun. I visit my favorite stands, asking for advice and joking with the salespeople, and end with a trip to my favorite bakery for baguette and croissants. Since the market ritual can take a while, I may not have my breakfast until well after 10. And sometimes the apartment is still dark and quiet when I get home.

This Sunday I didn't have a lot of time to relax with my coffee and croissant because I had a meal to prepare for guests who were coming in two hours. The only thing I had prepped ahead of time was some cheese straw dough and the batter for these brownies. Half of the batter was in the freezer, and the other half was on the counter. Big mistake: the girls assumed it was leftover batter and proceeded to snack on it. Would there be enough for the top layer?

Turns out that there was. So I cooked a lovely meal involving salad and pasta with shrimp and a delightful cheese that you heat with wine and serve with a spoon. There were several bottles of wine involved. The conversation was delightful. And then there were these brownies.
Apparently I had baked a chocolate cake for one of the guests many years ago, and he still remembered it. So I was a bit concerned that these brownies would uphold my reputation. I needn't have feared--Maida's brownies always come through. For once, I didn't bake these quite enough, so they were gooey, and the jam added to that rich quality. I passed around the box of Maison du Chocolat goodies that the guests had brought (excellent guests!!), but they preferred the brownies. High praise indeed.
When the guests had left, it was after 4, and there was nothing left to do but put a few dishes in the dishwasher and stretch out on the couch to read. I hate Sundays--ha! Pass me another brownie.

Here's the recipe. Make these part of your lazy Sunday.

Raspberry Brownies

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1 scant cup (6.5 oz.) sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 c. (1.25 oz.) unsifted flour
1 c. (4 oz.) walnuts, in medium-sized pieces
1/3 c. (3.7 oz.) raspberry jam (Maida says seedless, but I didn't mind the seeds)

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment; butter the foil (parchment doesn't need buttering in this case, but foil fits into the pan better. Your choice.). In a large, microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan, melt the chocolate and sugar together. Take off the heat if you're using the stove and mix in the salt, vanilla, and sugar. Now beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the flour and then the walnuts. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and put that in the freezer. Hide the leftover brownie batter from marauding snackers.
After at least half an hour, take the brownie batter out of the freezer and spread it with the jam. Dollop the remaining batter over the jam and spread it carefully into an even layer. Now heat the oven to 325 while the brownie batter comes to room temperature. Once the oven is preheated, put the brownies in and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely clean. Cool to room temperature, then freeze. Take brownies out, peel off the foil or parchment, and cut the brownies into neat little squares or rectangles. You can see that I didn't carry out this particular step. Enjoy cold or room temperature, with ice cream or not.

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