Friday, July 13, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Making the perfect brownie is difficult. Some people like them so fudgy that you need a spoon to eat them. Other people like their brownies super cakey.

Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, these brownies are an attempt to bridge the gap between too hot and too cold, and find something ‘just right.’ So, they are neither too fudgey nor too cakey. Put simply, it’s a classic brownie, albeit perhaps kicked up a notch.

These are chocolate brownies with toasted walnuts.  They’re chewy (bordering on fudgy), with intense notes of chocolate. They’re also slightly cakey, but without being dry. The interior is pleasantly moist. And because of that, the recipe is forgiving in the oven. If you’re the type to worry about over-baking your brownies, this is your recipe!

Finished with a generous coating of toasted walnuts, these chocolate brownies are a simple and satisfying treat!

P.S., I made 1/3 of the pan without walnuts, so if you’re a brownie purist, I can promise you they’re still pretty awesome, even without toasted nuts.

Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Quick cooking note: Overbaked brownies are sad. And no one likes a sad brownie, so don't overbake. That said, this recipe is pretty heavy on the moist ingredients, so they're not prone to drying out like some. In fact, the ones I cooked came out after 35 minutes. Just keep an eye on them and have a toothpick handy.

Adjust over rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees.

For the baking pan, cut an 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges.

Then, cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with cooking spray.

I know this sounds complicated, but you're basically making a foil lining that you can use to later lift the brownies out of the pan, which really makes cutting them easier.

If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes.

Set aside to cool. 

Now, whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Alternatively, in a microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.

The microwave is fine. Don't feel like you have to boil over water.

When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisky in sugar.

Here, it will look somewhat gritty.

Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined.

Whisk in vanilla.

Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with the rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

There! Perfectly smooth!

Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface.

Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter.

 Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. 

Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.

(Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days. Or, you know, in the freezer if they inexplicably last for more than 3 days.)



1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts , chopped medium (optional)

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Recipe adapted from the good folks at Cook's Illustrated. 

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