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Brownies

March 19, 2013

I can’t believe I haven’t shared my brownie recipe with you before now! This recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated (specifically The New Best Recipe), is probably one of the first from-scratch desserts I ever baked on my own, and it remains my favorite “normal” brownie recipe. These brownies maintain the ideal balance (at least in my opinion) between cakey and fudgy, and they always come out with a perfect crunchy, crinkly top.

I prefer brownies with nuts (lots and lots of nuts) – you know me and texture! I usually increase the amount of pecans or walnuts to 1½ cups (or more) and stir some into the batter before adding to the pan so the nuts aren’t only on the top. I also like my brownies slightly underbaked, so I start checking with a toothpick at 25 minutes of baking time rather than 30.

The use of cake flour in this recipe rather than all-purpose flour keeps the brownies from becomng too tough because cake flour has a low gluten content. Alas, the flour does still contain some gluten, so I was unable to enjoy any brownies this time around. Next time for sure!

Brownies

The brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 24 brownies

Ingredients

  • 1  cup pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
  • 1¼  cups (5 ounces) cake flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 3/4  teaspoon baking powder
  • 6  ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 12  tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2¼  cups (15¾ ounces) sugar
  • 4  large eggs
  • 1  tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with a foil sling and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. If using nuts, spread the nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together until combined; set aside.
  4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double-boiler set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in a microwave, heat the butter and chocolate in a large 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 the chocolate burn.)
  5. When the chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove the bowl from the saucepan and gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, folding with a rubber spatula until the batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan; using a spatula, spread the batter into the corners of the pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the toasted nuts (if using) evenly over the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove the brownies from the pan by lifting them out with the overhanging foil. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

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