Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Ultimate Cocoa Walnut Brownies

These are incredible little brownies — moist, dense and fudgy in the middle, and chewy on the outside with a wafer thin candy-like crust. Bon Appétit featured these decadent little wonders on their February 2011 cover. It piqued my interest even more with the huge text proclaiming "Best-Ever Brownies," heralding an entire feature section devoted to chocolate desserts penned by none other than Alice Medrich — an author, baker, and chocolatier that has been affectionately called 'The First Lady of Chocolate.'

I was obviously delig
hted when a brownie opportunity presented itself this past weekend. A troupe of young nieces were expected for a weekend barbecue, so the challenge was on. The recipe is quite simple and requires very few ingredients: butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, 2 eggs, flour and walnuts. The result after 35 minutes in the oven was gooey, fudgy and finger licking good. The only problem was that I ignored part of the recipe. Medrich calls for the brownie pan to be lined with foil which as it turns out, helps in getting the brownies out of the pan. Good point. Next time, I obey the recipe and line the pan. Didn't affect the taste though, judging from all the chocolatey smiles!

Cocoa Brownies with Brown Butter & Walnuts
Makes 16
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit, by Alice Medrich

10 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F 
and line the inside of an 8" x 8" square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving 2-inch overhangs and pressing the foil tightly to the sides of the pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until the butter stops foaming, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons of water, vanilla and salt. Stir to blend, then let cool 5 minutes. Add eggs t the mixture, one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until well blended. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking.

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. If there is still a tiny bit of m
oist batter at the very bottom that's okay. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, for up to three days.