Kickass brownies

So I think I’ve finally done it. I finally have the perfect kickass brownie recipe.
I know your heart is palpitating with excitement (sit down, you don’t want to faint) but at the same time, you’re wondering, “What makes it perfect?”

We can all argue (for days, perhaps) the merits of fudgy versus chewy versus cakey brownies. Believe me, unless you are some sort of psychotic chocolate hater, you probably have an opinion on it. What I’ve realized is that you can’t please everybody when it comes to brownies, so you might as well just make yourself happy. What do I like? For me, it is the chewy with the crackly top.

I thought I had come across the right recipe, but somehow this ended up feeling too… I don’t know, intensely chocolate, almost like a flourless chocolate cake. I’ve been trying to find something ever since that has more chewiness, still chocolatey but doesn’t knock you out– or basically not falling over from the chocolate and sugar rush afterward.

I came across a NY Times article on this very subject. (Great article– with a brief history of the brownie, just in case you are a food nerd like me.) In it, one of the recipes had the unusual ingredient of brown sugar, which I never thought to put into brownies. I gave this recipe a go and there was my Baking Epiphany: the brown sugar added moisture, which made it chewy, and a quick whisk on the eggs gave it the crinkly top. The only thing I found is that it was too sweet. So I adjusted the sugar by cutting back on the white sugar, and replacing some of it with brown sugar. One major plus point with brownies is that you don’t have to bother with super expensive chocolate. Believe me, it won’t make a difference. Just use chocolate that you would choose to eat. (If you hate Hershey’s, don’t use it. I’ll admit, I don’t like Hershey’s. But I’ll use Ghirardelli for brownies any day.) That is one of the things that is awesome about brownies: they are totally common, totally proletariat, but even the most pretentious, Valrhona-only-eating foodie still digs them.

With this recipe, the brownies taste even better the next day (if they last that long). They become sort of chewier; just make sure you wrap them up tightly when storing.

Kickass brownies
adapted from the NY Times
Makes 9 large brownies or 12 smallish ones

Ingredients
4 ounces butter (110 grams)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (110 grams)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (155 grams)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (56 grams)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Butter and flour an 8-inch pan.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat in a small, heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in salt, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla. Cool until just warm.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour and nuts.
  4. Pour the batter in the baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is shiny (you can check whether it’s done with a skewer, but crumbs should easily cling to the skewer. Try not to overbake). Cool on a baking rack.

Links:
Fine Cooking: Baking Brownies Just Right: Cakey, Chewy, or Fudgy
NY Times: Simple Pleasure, American Style