Chocolate is the Fifth Food Group, and I for one can’t live without it. Besides, who doesn’t like rich, dark chocolate? These incredible brownies are just shy of qualifying for fudge status, and have I’ve been able to adapt them to gluten free when necessary. A friend gave me this recipe 20+ ago, and it has been a staple since. My son used to adore these in his school lunches – it was popular trading currency, and one brownie used to get him 2 masala dosas from his best friend’s lunch cooler. I’ve seen variations of this recipe in foodie magazines, but I still like my original best. I vary the flavors for different tastes, and have included our three favorites below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (I use organic, grass-fed butter for it’s superior taste, but you can use whatever you have)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Ghiradelli or Scharfenberger)
Now the fun part – you can do any of the following combinations, or make one up yourself for different tastes. I’ve done all, and they’re great.
1 T vanilla extract and 4T water or
1T almond extract and 4T amaretto liqueur or
1T orange extract and 4T Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/2 t salt
4 large eggs, chilled
3/4 cup unbleached flour or almond flour (to make this gluten free)
1 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or pecans, depending on the taste you wish. If you do the orange flavoring, I chop up candied orange peel. Let me know if you want that recipe, or you can find it at specialty cooking shops, or on Amazon.
Position rack in the bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 F. Coat 9x12x2 metal with nonstick spray. Alternatively, butter and flour pan. Pick what works best for you. I use the baking spray, and it works great.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring often, until browned bits form at the bottom of pan. About 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat. Immediately add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla or other extract and salt. Stir to blend with wire whisk. Let cool at least 10 minutes – you want the mixture to still be hot, just not so hot it will scramble the eggs. Add eggs, beating vigorously. When mixture looks nice and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously until smooth and satiny. Add in the liqueur or water. Beat 1 minute.
Stir in the nuts of your choice or candied fruit until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick or knife inserted into center comes out almost clean, with only a few crumbs attached – about 25-30 minutes or so. Check it at 25! And if it needs more, put it in for another 5 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. It should look like this.
When completely cool, cut into small pieces – this is a very rich brownie. Absolutely no calories, of course, but when it tastes this good, who cares? You can make it ahead of time if it’s for an event or meeting. It keeps well in the refrigerator up to a week, but trust me, it never hangs around that long.