I got into the baking game to get the attention of a cute boy at summer camp. The boy and I never became anything, but I made my first batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Since then, I’ve associated baking with pleasing others. Nothing brightens my day as much as watching co-workers enjoying my treats.
Lately, baking has become much more private. The last couple of months have been torturous, filled with aimlessness and bitterness. I am trying to be more positive and get more direction in my life, but being in the kitchen is one of the rare things right now that provide me with stability. After the work as the sun is setting, I find peace with measuring, stirring, whisking, and tasting. The exact nature of baking requires my attention and takes my mind off of everything else–work, boys, drama. Eating such great goods helps as well.
I finally tackled the infamous Baked brownies. I have long had this recipe in my queue, but I’ve been reluctant since these brownies come with high expectations. Oprah endorses them as does America’s Test Kitchen. I was bound to be disappointed, especially since I have my own favorite recipes for brownies already.
I shouldn’t have had any doubts, though. The tops were perfectly crackly and delicate. The centers were moist and melted in one’s mouth like decadence. The key is to use top notch cocoa–Valrhona cocoa powder. Good ingredients make for good results; it’s really something you just have to try out for yourself.
Makes 24 brownies
- 1 1/4 cups ap flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona)
- 11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 11/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temp
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temp.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.
Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies will keep at room temp for up to 3 days.