Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies

~ Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies ~

Home, inspired, saturated: This sums up my present state on the heels of a 5 day retreat to the Allegheny mountains in West Virginia, where I had the honor and privilege of receiving a scholarship award from Chronicle Books to attend the Professional Food Writers Symposium at the Greenbrier Resort. (More to come on that soon, I promise!) In the meantime, my return home immediately collided with life as I had 24 hours in which to prepare and cater a beach party for 50 wonderful guests, while catching up on family, work and soccer games. As I catch my breath and collect my thoughts, dirty laundry and mail, I turn to the only sensible remedy for restoring any semblance of order and balance: dark Swiss chocolate. You will note that there are 4 brownies on my plate.

Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies

Makes 32 dense, fudgy small squares

1 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
12 ounces high-quality dark chocolate (70%), coarsely chopped such as Lindt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla together in a large bowl until the mixture lightens in color. Add chocolate to the eggs and stir to combine well. Add flour to the chocolate batter, stirring with a wooden spoon, until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until the top is set and sides begin to pull away from the pan.  Brownies will be fudgy and a wooden pick will not come out clean.  Cool completely on rack.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. To cut, remove brownies from pan by lifting paper at sides. Cut in small squares. (The brownies will soften at room temperature.) Keep them stored in the refrigerator, and they will last for up to one week – if they last that long.

Ad Hoc Brownies (ad hoc)

Ad Hoc Brownies (ad hoc)

Ad Hoc Brownies

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.

Chocolate Brownies

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.