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This is a brownie with a dry cracked crust, a wonderfully moist texture, and a rich deep chocolate flavor. Brownies are often classified as “fudgy” or “cakey”, yet I would describe this brownie as a cross between the two. They are wonderful plain or I often serve them for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The beauty of the Brownie is that it is made using just one bowl. First you melt the chocolate with the butter and then, one by one, you stir in the rest of the ingredients. You do not have to pull out your electric mixer, all you need is a wire whisk and spatula (or wooden spoon). The deep chocolate flavor of these brownies comes from semisweet chocolate and cocoa powder (either unsweetened or Dutch-processed). As I have stated so often with other chocolate recipes, the quality of the chocolate will affect the taste of your brownies. So buy the best you can afford. When choosing a chocolate, always buy one that you enjoy eating out-of-hand. Look for chocolate that has a lovely shiny finish (a sign that the chocolate was cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time) and one that has that wonderful ‘snap’ when you break it into pieces. Although this recipe calls for adding chocolate chips to the batter, you could substitute nuts (chopped walnuts or pecans) for the chocolate chips.
Now, the challenge with all Brownies is how long they should be baked. It is amazing how just a minute or two will turn a moist brownie into one that is dry and tasteless. So use the stated baking time as a guide only and test the brownies a few minutes before the end of the baking time. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies. These brownies are done when the toothpick still has a little batter clinging to it and a few moist clumps. You do not want the toothpick to be clean as this means the brownies have been over baked.
Brownies are definitely America’s favorite bar cookie (square). It is hard to believe that they began their life in a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog over 100 years ago (1897). Brownies are so named because of their dark brown color, not because they contain chocolate. In fact, the first brownie recipes didn’t even contain chocolate. When I looked in Fannie Farmer’s ‘Boston Cooking School Cook Book’ the Brownie recipe calls for butter, sugar, Porto Rico molasses, an egg, flour, and pecan meat. So, I think we can safely say that our Brownie has evolved over the last century.
5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolatechopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons (15 grams) cocoa powder
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (125 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar . Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips (if using).
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled. These freeze very well.
Makes 16 brownies.