(mostly) cocoa brownies

I had a request for these brownies a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to get around to them. Though there’s a ton of stuff I have logged away waiting to be baked, this request was made by one of my favorite coworkers so I bumped it to the top of the list. He sent me this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and pretty much told me his life depended on eating these as soon as possible. Well, since he made it through the past two weeks without bugging me again, and I finally had some free time, his patience was rewarded. Other people got rewarded too, as it turned out.

I tried so, so, so very hard not to modify this recipe. I wanted to deliver them exactly how she had intended them to be made, but alas I just can’t control myself. I didn’t make too much (or too drastic) of a change. I doubled the batch because I have a lot of coworkers and cutting smaller brownies wouldn’t solve the problem, I didn’t have enough sugar so I just made do, and Angel told me that these would be great with some semisweet chips in them instead of the nuts (which accounts for the “mostly” in the title) so those went in as well.

I am sure that the Smitten Kitchen recipe was flawless and those brownies would be insane on their own, but here is what I’ve come up with, and hopefully you’ll enjoy them. The recipe below is for the double batch as I made them, but you should go on over to the Smitten Kitchen link above to find the original recipe.

(MOSTLY) COCOA BROWNIES

  • 2.5 cups unsalted butter (2.5 sticks)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar (I ran out, oops. Also I was going to use vanilla sugar, but I was trying so hard not to stray… You really don’t miss it, I promise)
  • 1.5 cups plus 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (misread that one! they tasted fine, but it should have been 1tsp)
  • 4 cold eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1+ cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven, and preheat to 325. Line a 10×15″ baking dish (I almost always use glass) with parchment paper. I only put it along the bottom so it wouldn’t stick, since the brownie pulls away from the sides of the dish as it’s baking, but you should leave some overhang. I didn’t leave much, but it really helped with getting those suckers out of the dish at the end, so I’ll leave more slack next time.

Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Once the butter is melted, add it to the large bowl and mix thoroughly. Once all those are nice and fudgy, stir in the vanilla. Then, one at a time, add the eggs and beat well until each is mixed in before adding the next.

The mixture is pretty gritty before you add the eggs. You can see in the last picture how smooth and shiny it ends up though. Also, please excuse the poor photo quality. Sometimes the sunlight works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes I make brownies late at night. Please forgive me!

Now it’s time for the flour. I mixed it in until it was incorporated, but didn’t want to over-mix. Funnily enough, I misread the directions, again, and she specifies that you should mix in the flour, and then stir it an additional 40 times, vigorously. I was trying so hard NOT to do that. Oh well. (I will keep reiterating, they turned out FANTASTIC, doesn’t matter!) Here’s where I added the chips and stirred just a few additional times to get them mixed in evenly.

Spread the batter evenly in the pre-lined pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. I’m going to interrupt the directions here for a second just to allow myself to remember the smell of these brownies in the oven. OMG doesn’t cover it. I seriously considered dipping a spoon into the batter before it was done baking. (molten cake anyone? or how about this brownie pudding?) Okay, thanks. Back to the recipe…

I didn’t want to over-bake, but I wasn’t quite sure at what point a toothpick would come out slightly moist with batter per the directions I was following. It took me a bit to realize that I had chocolate chips in the batter so of course it would come out slightly moist. Worried that I’d cooked them a little too long, I kept them in around 27 minutes, I put them straight into the fridge to stop baking.

I started cutting them when they were slightly cool, then realized they kept flaking because they weren’t set enough.

I put them back in the fridge and continued cutting in the morning. It was extremely difficult! I tried letting them thaw, but ended up slicing violently with a carving knife. Probably not the best method. Here’s where the overhang of parchment came in handy, because it allowed me to get the first brownie out of the dish. Without getting the first one out, it’s very difficult to get the rest. They peeled easily enough from the parchment, but I’ll tell ya they were pretty well adhered to each other.

As you can see, the tops still kept flaking, so I did my best to press them back in place. Well, the ones I didn’t eat anyway. I got 30 brownies out of this, but you could probably make them bigger or smaller if you wanted.

And there you have it. They came out fine! My two favorite comments of the day were “I saw your name spelled wrong today, it was D-I-A-B-L-O” and then there’s my boss who just kept repeating “bad, bad, bad, bad…” as he was walking down the hallway behind me. I said “just wait until your birthday…” but left out an ominous cackle. (It was implied though, on that day there will be chocolate.) Anyways, I feel that these deserve an evil rating of about 3.5 for ruining diets throughout the office. They may have also performed miracles – two coworkers with colds said they could still smell the chocolate and had to eat them. Nice!

And here’s the least blurry solo pic:

I know, it’s like a joke, right? Happy chocolating!

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