Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bonus recipe: All-American Brownies

As I finish up the last few recipes in the American Desserts book, I have found myself instead making Maida's All-American Brownies for successive parties. This recipe comes from her Book of Chocolate Desserts, my first dessert cookbook. I got a reputation from this book, making cakes and cookies and Coffee-Toffee Pie. But it's the All-American Brownies and the World's Best Hot Fudge Sauce that I always go back to.

The recipe for All-American Brownies is not so different from the one you might find on the back of the orange packet of unsweetened chocolate: melt chocolate and butter, add vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour, and nuts, bake. One bowl, 10 minutes max.

I also find that this recipe is one of my favorite reasons to have a microwave, though it also comes together quite nicely in a saucepan.

What else can I say? The recipe is simple and yet makes friends wherever you take it. I brought some to my friend Gabrielle's birthday party (thus the fancy presentation), and they were inhaled. "These are not brownies!" one guest proclaimed. "This is a fondant (that warm cake with the soft center)!" We discussed the recipe for a while, and it was determined that it was the proportion of butter that made it so good. Who knew that French people liked to skimp on butter? But of course it is all-American to go nuts with the butter...

In any case, you can't have a site about Maida Heatter's American desserts without this recipe. I read somewhere that American chocolate dessert recipes didn't go into the super-chocolatey realm until Maida Heatter's books came along. With that inspiration in mind, the recipe I present you is even more chocolate than the original, thanks to some additional cocoa and chocolate chips or pieces.

Here's the recipe. Make your friends happy.

Amped-up All-American Brownies

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (100% chocolate), chopped
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter
1 heaping tablespoon (0.5 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
Large pinch salt
1 t. vanilla
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. (2 oz.) flour
1/2 c. (2 oz.) coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 c. (3 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment or foil; if you're using foil, butter or grease it. In a medium microwave-safe bowl (a 4-cup measure is perfect) put the chocolate, butter, cocoa, and salt. Microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring well after each, until the chocolate and butter are melted (you can also melt this together in a small heavy saucepan over low heat). Stir in the vanilla, then the sugar, then the eggs (one at a time, stirring well after each), then the flour, and finally the nuts and chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just barely set--I find these are best when they're still a bit gooey. Cool in the pan and cut into squares: it's probably easiest to cut them if they've been chilled or even frozen, but I think these taste best room temperature or even slightly warm. It's your call. Enjoy the brownies--and the praise.


  1. These were the best brownies!

  2. Glad you liked them: they've always been a favorite of mine!

  3. These are my very favorite brownies. Whenever I want a brownie, I make these. So the other day, Natalie was saying that she really wanted brownies and had gone to Trader Joe's to buy mix only to find that she forgot her wallet. I told her I would make brownies. So I'm in the kitchen mixing these up bragging about how I can make these in the same amount of time it takes to make a mix and how I have the recipe memorized.
    They came out flat and greasy. Apparently my memory was faulty. I used one egg instead of two. I don't recommend that change to the recipe. They still tasted delicious, but they were pretty weird.