I’ve been baking brownies quite often recently. Brownies are everyone’s favorite and having a good ol’ warm brownie with ice cream is always a perfect ending to a nice simple dinner. On a side note, I’ve a colleague that is allergic to chocolate and I absolutely cannot imagine how he can survive!
I love baking brownies for others because it is actually quite a challenge, for the very fact that there are a bazillion types of different brownies and people are generally very specific to how they like their brownies to be. Before settling for a brownie recipe, I’ll always ask a series questions- do you like the gooey are cakey kind? soft or firm? crusty on top or not? toppings or no toppings? nuts or no nuts?
Alice Medrich, the queen of chocolate, is a great resource for all kinds of brownies. Her cookbooks feature many brownie recipes and each recipe has a few variations. The brownie recipe I’m sharing today (see below for recipe) is the one that I bake most often and the one I find is most well liked. It is crusty on top and wonderfully gooey within.
Brownies make nice simple gifts. However, they can be a challenge to pack as they do not look as beautiful as say… cupcakes. Brownies are very oily and the oil will easily seep through paper packaging. I like wrapping the brownies in foil first but glassine bags or plastic favor bags will work too. I recently got a chance to package the brownies I bake (see picture above). I decided to use pattern tissue paper (click link to see tutorial) and cotton twine. Since the tissue paper already has a pattern, I decided to create a simple tag using just fonts, which will be available for download in my next post!
Classic Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich, Bittersweet
makes 16 large or 26 smaller brownies in a 8-inch square baking pan
185g bittersweet chocolate (66% to 72%)
100g unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
0.5 cup all purpose flour
1. Line your 8-inch pan pan with aluminium foil (preferred) or parchment paper, leaving an overhang of the two opposite sides. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.
2. Place the bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter in a medium heatproof bowl. Set the heatproof bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water or in the microwave to melt. If using the microwave, microwave in short intervals of 30 seconds to ensure that the chocolate does not burn. Melt until mixture is smooth.
3. While the chocolate and butter mixture is still hot, stir in the sugar using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
4. Stir in the sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until the first one is incorporated before adding the next.
6. Stir in the flour and ensure there are no streaks of flour left. The batter should be smooth, glossy and begin to come away from the sides of the bowl, 1 to 2 minutes.
7. Scrape butter into the lined pan and back for 20 minutes. The surface of the brownies will look dry but a toothpick inserted in the center will come out gooey. I usually jiggle the tray to see if the batter still moves. If it doesn’t, it is either almost done or done.
– When the brownies are out of the oven, do not attempt to remove them from the tray. Doing so will ruin the smooth top of the brownies and you’ll find that if you take it out, there will be “creases” on the top.
– I find the brownies terribly hard to cut when they are out of the oven and cool. Because the brownies are gooey, they stick to the knife and do not give a clean cut.
– I’ve found that the best way to overcome the above two problems is to use the fridge. After taking the brownies out of the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Place a cooling rack in the fridge and set the baking tray on it. After about 1-1.5 hours, the brownies will cool and harden. Use a knife and run through the sides of the tray and lift the whole brownie out of the tray. While it is cold, cut the brownies into your desired sizes.
– After cutting the brownies into the desired squares, I’ve found them best left in an airtight container at room temperature.