Friday, October 31, 2008

Chocolate Friday

Friday! Friday! Wee-hoo. I had a little weekend preview this morning when B made oatmeal with spices and apples and honey and brought it in for me to eat in bed. So yum and cozy, I am the luckiest girl around.

As you know, we have been eating a lot of fruity things over here, what with apples and persimmons and pears knocking around. And normally I prefer fruit desserts anyway. But the other day I came home from work and suddenly felt as though I might fall over dead without some chocolate. So. In a total departure from habit, I found myself with a brownie recipe in my hand. I don’t know people, life does things to you and suddenly doors open. Brownies? I have always thought they were pretty blah. So frequently gummy and full of weird aftertastes, so completely all one thing, unlike rugelach pinwheels filled with nuts and apricots and spices, or spice cookies with fresh ginger and chocolate chips (oh my lord, I think that recipe was lost in the move, I must post those soon), or cherry pie with its crust and almond extract and lemon juice. But whatever, we were having a chocolate craving, so suddenly the one dimensional aspect of a brownie seemed like a good idea, as did using the Cook’s Illustrated version of things because let me tell you people: it’s a jungle out there if you are looking for a simple brownie recipe. Jeez.

So anyway. Hang onto your chairs out there, because these brownies are a-mazing. Not gummy, not shattery, not anything other than perfection of texture and deep, serious chocolate. And you can make these in your sleep, they are that easy. They do have some sugar in them. Like, “Oh god, will my teeth fall out if I eat one of these?” amounts of sugar. What can I say, brush up I guess, because they taste perfect and you need one.

From Cook’s Illustrated, with a few changes

3/4 cup mix of pecans or walnuts, chopped medium
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose and all was well)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (or better yet, just dumped into the double boiler, chopped shmopped, and honestly, I did not use the spendy stuff here and they were still amazing)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces (uh, ditto)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature (Hey, did you know that a “large egg” weighs about 57 grams? When you get your own chickens the weighing of eggs comes with the territory, I ended up using 5.)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Note: this next part is fussy, but trust me, I have already un-fussied it a great deal. Cut a piece of foil that will generously cover a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Tuck foil into pan, pushing it well into the corners and up along the sides. If you own baking spray, do your thing. If you don’t, grease the foil lightly. I do this by saving the wrappers on the butter sticks and using those and what butter still clings to them – keeps you from getting greasy hands, you just kind of smear the wrappers around. I really did a hack job getting every inch of the foil greased, and it was all ok.

Chop and place nuts on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder (note: sifting is not part of their directions, but I always sift when using baking powder because it's so lumpy). Add nuts and chocolate chips to flour mixture, stirring until they are even distributed.

Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl over saucepan of lightly simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth (I used my pyrex double boiler, because hey, it’s one of my favorite kitchen things and who doesn’t love see-through pots, and when finished poured mixture into a larger bowl for the addition of other ingredients). When mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually stir in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding until batter is completely smooth.

Pour batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with very, very few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes (ok, I had to bake it more like 45 minutes, but you do not want any gummy to spoil your party, so be vigilant and don’t take them out too early). Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil edges. Cut brownies into the size you like, and share with your friends so you don’t eat all that sugar yourself.


tina said...

It looks so good!

Alan said...

We had some goat milk fudge the other day that we took off the heat a few moments too soon. It didn't quite set, but it made really nice, thick chocolate sauce. Warmed and poured over your brownies would be heaven. You could call it Death by Chocolate. To Die For.

cake said...

i'm with you on the preference for fruit desserts, but those do look/sound wonderful.

i am so jealous of your adorable double boiler. it is a noticeably absent tool in our kitchen. one of these days...

Heather said...

I tell you, I got that thing for an absolute *song* on ebay. I just had to keep my eyes peeled and hang in there for the deal.

It's a good thing you are over in Ohio, Alan - the two of us with our chocolates put together might be the end of both of us...

queenbeehoney said...

Uh oh. Holiday Girl has arrived. Remember? It would all start with Halloween and scaring all your friends half to death at the annual party, and didn't quit until Easter. The celebratory world of the only child: what can we do to get some people over here for fun?

Great close-up shot of the old Vesta, and your double boiler looks like it's been dating your chicory pot.

Dang. I just missed some brown clogs for $5 on e-Bay. I've been watching them for a week, they were super cheap, I need brown shoes. Waylaid by chocolate and butter once again.

stephy said...

AHHH!!! Where did you get the awesome glass double boiler??? I am lazy and have always used the metal pot within a boiling water metal pot method, and somewhere along the line of cooking, WATER ALWAYS GETS IN.
As I love all things clear glass (used to be a lab rat) I would love to know where you got yours.

judith said...

OMLOG! dunno how i missed the pic of the tin before but but but that TIN!!! That tin ( well, not that very one mos likely but one achingly time-warpingly similar) rode home long long ago with the three children in the back seat from the convent in Wheeling West Virginia where we had made our annual pilgrimage to visit the nuns who raised my ma. And that tin stayed with our family a long long long time - always being used... until sometime after i left home. Who knows when Josephine the elder decided it had become part of what she refered to as "stuff and nonsense" and jettisoned the gorgeous thing?


THANK YOU for this view. send more anytime - would love to surprise the fellow sibs! & say hey anytime - sometime!

Heather said...

Stephy - it's all about ebay for the vintage pyrex stuff. Good luck!

Heather said...

Hey Jude - do you read the followup comments here? I never quite know how all of this commenting and conversation is supposed to go, but: that is a vintage sewing tin and for about $15 and some ebay scouring, I am sure you could find one quite similar. I love the handles the most.