When it comes to certain recipes, I don’t mess with them. Take my favorite brownie recipe. It has withstood the passage of time with little modification. When we moved from country to country gentle tweaks were made along the way to adjust to the availability of different ingredients. In Switzerland I used Lindt chocolate, while in England I used Green and Black’s, and in Denmark I used, er, Swiss chocolate. Yet, ultimately, the recipe has remained the same, resulting in a dense, dark chocolate brownie, best eaten in small bites and always a crowd pleaser.
However, this weekend I had an urge to buck tradition and experiment with a new brownie recipe. I came upon Thomas Keller’s recipe for chocolate brownies in the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. It sounded great, promising brownies sufficiently chocolate-y and not too cakey. They were not so different from my own, and, better yet, created by Thomas Keller. I just had to make them and immediately dove in. My spontaneity got the best of me, though, as I measured out the ingredients, and discovered that I lacked all of the cocoa called for in the recipe. It was too late to turn back. Butter was melting, and by then my guard was down – I was seriously craving chocolate. I would have to make a few adjustments in order to continue on. Yes, I had to tweak Mr. Keller’s recipe and make his Ad Hoc brownies … ad hoc.
The results were delicious – sweeter than my recipe, and fudgy with the surprising crunch of chocolate chips. I added a bar of 85% Lindt chocolate to replace the missing cocoa, and melted it with the butter, so I am sure my brownies differed in consistency from Mr. Keller’s, but they were good nonetheless. And the best part? I still get to try to make the Ad Hoc brownies at home.
Modified from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook – makes about 24
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 lb. unsalted butter
3 1/2 oz. dark chocolate (72%-85%), broken in pieces
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz. dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a 9″ square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment and butter parchment. Dust pan with flour or unsweetened cocoa, shaking out excess. Sift flour, cocoa and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter and 3 1/2 oz. dark chocolate together in a double boiler or bowl over barely simmering water. (Do not let bowl touch the water.)
Mix eggs and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Add 1/3 dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add 1/3 butter and mix to combine. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake until set and knife comes clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut in 1 1/2″ squares.