Friday, February 12, 2016

Cocoa Walnut Brownies: A Sweet Valentine's Treat

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 way back on their February 2011 cover, proclaiming them "The Best-Ever Brownies," with an entire portion of the magazine devoted to chocolate desserts by Alice Medrich — an author, baker, and chocolatier affectionately called 'The First Lady of Chocolate.' An easy and delectably delicious dessert for Valentines Day, this 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 is gooey, fudgy and finger licking good. 

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 moist 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 with a glass of champagne to toast Valentines Day, or store they can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days — if they last that long!