I know that this is quite boring and stereotypical but I have PMS this week and my cravings come with, as my husband likes to say, “very specific instructions.” I wanted brownies. But, like every woman with a spastic relationship to her hips and, in turn their relationship the butter, sugar and 70 percent chocolate that makes our taste buds go round, I paused. And paused. How could I adjust my Very Strong Need for a bite of chewy, dense, bitter-laced homage to cocoa mass with my need for my favorite skirt to fit it my favorite way?
A-ha! I would make them tiny, and I would stash them in the freezer and eat but one each day. Just. One. I am brilliant, a master of compromise, I assured myself and got to work.
A while back, I confessed that my favorite brownie recipe in the entire world was the one I’d been making since high school — the “One Bowl Brownie” recipe from the back of the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate box. They are dense and chewy and moist with a thin crisp of a crust atop, they’re bitter-sweet and my god, you make them in one bowl! In a kitchen without a dishwasher, they’re a dream come true. Best yet, the actual use of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate is optional; they respond well to all levels of fancy.
But the people told me I was wrong. The swarmed en masse to my comments and email and ear and murmured things to me, things about these “outrageous” brownies that blew all other brownies out of the water. They told me one taste, and I’d say “Baker’s unsweetened who?” But when they said that magic name – “Ina Garten” – I was sold, because I love me some Ina and in my kitchen, she’s never done me wrong.
Somehow, the prospect of using a pound of butter, even in something that creates a commensurate quantity of product, was too much for me, so I halved it. The recipe was no one-bowl cinch, but not particularly difficult minus the part where I tapped out the excess flour all over myself and the floor. (Does anyone else HATE buttering and flouring pans? Because, ecch, I think I do enough for everyone.) And the resultsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ well, this is where I have been torn for days. The office? Loved them. The husband? Him, too, especially from the freezer. And me? At first, I was wildly disappointed. I love adding instant coffee or espresso powder to melted chocolate to heighten the flavor, but the amount in this recipe (3 T in the full recipe) is really overpowering.
But, in the days since I baked them, they’ve grown on me. The coffee makes them extra-bitter, fighting the good fight with the sweetness, keeping it in check. The chips are an awesome textural surprise. The edges, especially in the mini-muffin molded ones are really well-executed. I’m not throwing away my Baker’s recipe just yet, but they’re winning me over. One at a time.
Except for last night, when I had two.
Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 pound unsalted butter
28 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12x18x1 inch baking sheet. Melt together the butter, one pound of the chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and dough. Bake for another 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!
Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into squares.
Ina’s notes: Flouring the chips and walnuts keeps them from sinking to the bottom.
It is very important to allow the batter to cool well before adding the chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
Do ahead: This recipe can be baked up to a week in advance, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated.