Monday, November 21, 2011

Deep Chocolate Brownies

Let's face it. Sometimes we crave chocolate. According to some people, chocolate cravings--especially cravings for dark chocolate are indicative of a magnesium deficiency. I've been craving dark chocolate, but unadulterated by anything else. 
Brownies, up close and personal
A word of warning: These brownies aren't vegan. Or gluten-free. If you're looking for something healthy--also not it. This is death-by-chocolate, rich dessert. After all, they're deep chocolate brownies. And this type of indulgence is just the type of pick-me-up that you might want for a rainy (literally or figuratively) day, or for a fun baking project for a day with frost on the windows and snow falling outside.  

So, these aren't brownies that I can eat (or should eat, perhaps, since I know if I did they'd make me feel icky). Why'd I make them? E asked me to make brownies and so that's what I did. I made "normal people" brownies, because I have yet to find a GF brownie recipe that I particularly like. Part of this, I think, has to do with the grittiness of many GF flours. And part of it, in all honesty, has to do with my lack of love of most brownies.

I spent some time trying to figure out a good recipe for chewy, fudgy brownies because that's what E wanted. Thank goodness. I have no patience for chocolate cake or cakey brownies--just make cake, if that's what you want. And maybe, possibly, don't make it chocolate. But you read about my chocolate cake biases in the pumpkin cake post. Long story short, I found two recipes I thought looked pretty good and which provided lovely explanations for how the authors got to the recipes they did. One had more chocolate -- and three types. One had brown sugar (entirely, instead of white sugar) and a lot less butter. I combined these two recipes, pulling out what I considered the best aspects and created this recipe. E and our friend Caitlin swore this was a good recipe, so you'll have to take their word for it--plus a few co-workers, who also had the opportunity to try them. One described these brownies as "not too cakey, not too flat, not too fudgy. You could put frosting on it and call it cake." They smelled absolutely lovely as it baked (and all night).

With whipped cream
I served these with fresh whipped cream after making/serving a lovely butternut squash stew (more on this in another post) and a variation on Mark Bittman's no-knead bread, as the conclusion to an autumn dinner party. If I'd had it (and if E liked it), I might have put small curls of candied ginger. If I were to make more whipped cream and had a lemon on hand, I might put lemon zest on the whipped cream, because lemon and chocolate are a lovely combination.

I love baking new projects and E's a willing subject, especially if it involves chocolate (thanks E!). If you have suggestions for things you'd like to see, let me know! 

Deep Chocolate Brownies
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour

Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9" pie pan.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated.  Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined.  (It took me a while to get the flour evenly incorporated and I was worried it would affect the texture of the brownies, but they turned out fabulously – no need to worry.)  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer.  Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  
Slice as you would a pie, creating about 24 slices.  Store in an air-tight container.   

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