Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cocoa Brownies

It has been entirely too long since I baked a dessert. In the new year, I've made exactly two desserts: vanilla pudding and a remake of the Christmas lemon cream pie with homemade crust for a friend's birthday. It's not that I haven't wanted to bake, but just finding the time has been difficult. Most of my cooking lately has been done on the weekends and when I've had people over for dinner, I've had to restrain myself from making dessert as well.

Sadly, this means the cocoa powder I bought on my trip to Quebec City has been languishing in the cupboard. One of the lovely things about living in Quebec is that this is a province that knows chocolate. The number of delicious chocolate shops here boggles my mind. The hot chocolate here is rich and thick. I never realized before that hot chocolate could be that way ... almost liquid chocolate instead of just milk with chocolate flavouring. There's also a small chocolate shop a short walk from my house that sells amazing brownies that I don't mind paying $2 for. I think that's why when I make brownies at home, I tend to add crazy embellishments. The plain brownies here are easy to find and out of this world good. Why bother? Except I had some cocoa powder from the chocolate museum in Quebec City (a cute chocolate shop with the brilliant idea of adding a small museum to distinguish itself) waiting to be used. I decided Smitten Kitchen's best cocoa brownies would be the perfect recipe to use my cocoa powder in.

This recipe is a simple, quick, one-bowl affair that doesn't require a mixer. It's barely more work than using a boxed brownie mix ... and the results are delicious. They're moist and rich in a way that I wouldn't expect from using cocoa powder. I passed on the nuts because I'm just not a fan of putting chopped nuts in brownies, but feel free to add in 2/3 cup of walnuts or pecans at the very end. My directions below use the microwave, but you could also do it stovetop as SK does.

Cocoa Brownies (from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet)

10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (280 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 grams) all-purpose flour

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
3. Add sugar, cocoa, and salt to the butter and stir until combined (it will still be gritty).
4. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon.
5. (Make sure your mixture has cooled enough that your eggs don't scramble, although you should be fine because only the butter was heated.) Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
6. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
7. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
8. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

No comments:

Post a Comment