Looking for something to make your sweetie for Valentine's Day or maybe just looking to be sweet to yourself? These brownies are the thing. I used to have a favorite cappucino brownie recipe. They were quite tasty and gorgeous when cut on a diagonal and spinkled half and half with powdered sugar and cocoa powder. But then I found these brownies and forgot all about those other ones. Haven't made them since, in fact.
These brownies have a lot going for them. They're incredibly easy to make...for kids, nonbakers, even folks with almost no kitchen tools. You only need a big spoon or a whisk, one large bowl, one small bowl and a baking pan. Now understand that these brownies would be worth it even if you had to dirty up every bowl in the kitchen and had flour in your hair. But you don't. They can be stirred together in minutes.
The only fussiness comes from putting foil or parchment across the baking pan to make a sling. You're certainly welcome to make them without this step, but it makes them so much easier to remove in one piece. Then you can cut them however you like, if you get a chance to cut them at all.
One more thing, and I know this will probably go unheard in most cases. But just know, these brownies are really, really good when you make them and just let them cool a little. But if you wait until the next day...they are ohhhhmygawwwwwd good. So try making them the night before. Let them cool completely after baking, cover them and refrigerate or let sit out on the counter overnight. The next day they will be to die for. I have yet to find anyone (not one single person) who hasn't been blown away by these brownies. People who don't like sweets, even people who don't like chocolate. Heck, I'm not even that much of a brownie fan myself. But these elevate the genre.
Be sure to use good quality chocolate. By that I mean not the cheapo chocolate chips. Get 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, like Ghiradelli or Scharrfen Berger. You will be rewarded. You can also add nuts to these, if you like, about 1/2 - 2/3 cup. I've made them with chopped, salted macadamias and they were lovely. But I prefer them straight up. Nuts or no nuts in your brownies is kind of a religious thing, like beans or no beans in your chili. It's your call.
I ran across this recipe on my favorite baking blog by David Lebovitz. He shared the recipe from the book Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri. I hestitated about sharing this one because it's fully presented on David's funny and informative blog. But these brownies are so good, everyone needs to know about them. I can only imagine the other recipes that might be found in Malgieri's book. So I hope this turns you on to not only the brownies, but a great baking blog and an award-winning baking book. Thank you Mr. Lebovitz and Mr. Malgieri for sharing the love with these brownies.
By the way, David lives in Paris, but often teaches in the U.S. He's got a new book coming out this spring called The Sweet Life in Paris. Check it out. He also teaches classes and does a chocolate tour of Paris. Check out his schedule for more infomation. I've taken one of his classes and can tell you to run, not walk, to sign up. His desserts are reliably spectacular and he is wet-your-pants hilarious. His ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop, is my bible on making ice cream.
8 ounces 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup or 228 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
With softened butter or cooking spray, grease a square baking pan (mine is 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches when measured across the top). Now cut a strip of parchment paper or foil a little narrower than the width of the pan and long enough to hang over on both sides. Place the foil/parchment in the pan and press it against the sides. It will stick to the pan. Now grease the paper as well. This seems fussy, but will insure that you get these babies out of the pan in one piece. The overhanging sides will act as a sling to lift out the brownies -- only when they are completely cool! You hear me!
In a cereal or soup-sized bowl, put the chopped chocolate and the butter. Microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments until the butter is completely melted. The chocolate won't look melted, but stir them together and it will melt completely. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the eggs, salt, sugars and vanilla. (I like to use a giant version of my favorite whisk to do this. See photo. I have several mini-versions of this whisk for eggs, etc. But this big daddy version is reserved for heavy batters and mostly, these brownies. It is the perfect tool to mix these together.)
Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and whisk/stir together. Add the flour and gently whisk together completely.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is crackly and shiny. (You want fudginess, so the toothpick test doesn't really work here.)
Let cool completely. COMPLETELY. Then, if you can't stand it, using the sling you made with foil/parchment, lift the brownies out in one piece, slice and eat. But if you are made of stronger stuff than most, cover the cooled brownies in the pan and refrigerate or let sit on a cool counter overnight. The next day, use the sling to remove them, peel off the parchment/foil, slice and enjoy.
I like to say that these will serve 9, if cut into 9 squares, or my husband. (He's in the kitchen circling around the cooling brownies as I type this.)
Adapted from David Lebovitz and Nick Malgieri. Bless you both.