Monday, April 23, 2012
The Last Brownie
Have you ever been on a quest to find the perfect ______? Finding the ultimate version of a recipe is not easy.
I discovered that last year when I made an attempt to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I learned two things from that exercise. The first is to truly stack up one cookie against another, you really have to taste them side by side. I found each time I would bake a new version, I would like it. I made notes on what I liked about it, how the cookie held up after being stored for a day or three, the size, texture, flavors, etc. But without tasting them side by side it was hard to compare and I realized I liked them all for different reasons. The second thing I learned is the process of trying different recipes is really half the fun of the finding the best one. I have yet to get sick of trying a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Though I've made quite a few chocolate chip recipes, I've barely dipped my toe in the water on brownies. Luckily for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment I was assigned Cindy's blog, Everyday Insanity. And Cindy has tested a lot of brownies. In fact the tag line on her blog header is, "Tackling Life one Brownie Recipe at a Time!"
Cindy and I have been in SRC together for quite a while now and she has become one of my blogging friends. We frequently visit each other blogs and leave comments. So I was excited when I was assigned her blog as I had already bookmarked several recipes I wanted to try. Not surprisingly, they were all sweet recipes.
In the end, I couldn't resist trying the recipe Cindy calls the "last brownie." Meaning there is no need to try other recipes because this is the one. Cindy says she's been on her journey to find the perfect brownie for about the last 35 years. Though she deems this one to be perfect, I would bet this probably will not be the last brownie recipe she'll try. ;)
The last brownie is my kind of brownie. It's rich and chewy with a deep fudgy flavor. That pretty much says it all. I already have plans to make these again.
I have to come clean though and tell you about a little tactical error that I made. I did a trick my aunt does with brownies and sprinkled chocolate chips on top of the warm brownie right out of the oven. The chips melt after a few minutes and then you spread them around to make a chocolate frosting of sorts. But I realized after tasting these brownies that they didn't need a frosting. In the photos on Cindy's blog you can see they have a bit of crackly top...which is just how I like them. So I'm not sure what prompted me to add chocolate on top. Next time, I'll leave them naked. At least long enough to try one. Then I might have to top it with some bright strawberry sauce (recipe also courtesy of Cindy) finished off with fresh whipped cream.
Check out the pretty sauce....
I decided to go big with these brownies, cutting them into 4 massive, 4 inch square, multiple fork, totally sharable, dressed up, brownies.
And check it out after a bite...
After this little taste, I put the camera down and sat down to write the rest of this post while I dutifully had many more bites of this decadent dessert. Unfortunately Hubs didn't want to help me out. Mostly because he doesn't like chocolate or strawberries. What? He totally missed out! This dessert is intense and is a bit much for one person. I ate half and put the other half in the fridge. Guess what I'm having for breakfast? Thanks for two great recipes Cindy!
Oh, and rest assured, this will not be my last brownie. It's way too soon for my brownie journey to be over.
The Last Brownie
slightly adapted from Everyday Insanity
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) - I omitted
Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9x9 square pan with butter or cooking spray. (I used an 8x8 pan and baked it for about 43 minutes)
Heat an inch of water in a small to medium sauce pan until simmering. Place a medium heat proof mixing bowl (large enough to hold all the ingredients) over the simmering water and place the butter and chopped chocolate in the bowl. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until the butter and chocolate are melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir for another minute to release heat. Stir in sugar and salt. Once batter is tepid or cool, add eggs and vanilla and stir to fully combine (don't add the eggs while the batter is hot or you'll end up with scrambled eggs). Gently fold in the flour until it's just incorporated. Be sure not to over mix.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until brownie starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted has a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan.
adapted from Everyday Insanity
1 cup chopped strawberries (chopped in 1/4 inch to 1/2 pieces)
1/2 cup sugar (if your strawberries are very sweet you could cut sugar in half)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Combine all ingredients and small saucepan and heat on medium high. Bring to a rapid boil and stir for one minute at rapid boil. Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool.