Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ina Garten's Brownies

Ina Garten's Brownies - made July 23, 2010 from

Someone recommended this recipe as THE best brownies they'd ever made. In baking-speak, to me that's the equivalent of madly waving a red flag at a charging bull. Gets my attention, you know? So I had to try the recipe and see if they'd come up to snuff.

Hmmm. First of all, bear in mind that I've made literally hundreds of different brownie recipes many more hundreds of times. So the bar is quite high for me to put one brownie recipe above all. Second, we all have different tastes and preferences. That's my somewhat gentle lead-in to say I wouldn't quite say these were the best brownies I'd ever made. They were good, no doubt about it. But they don't make my top 5 favorite brownie recipes, mostly due to texture. My favorite kind of brownie is fudgy, rich and dense. These weren't cakey but they did have a light, soft texture, mainly due to creaming the butter and sugar for 5 minutes which incorporates a lot of air into the batter. This recipe also has a relatively large amount of baking powder so that accounts for the lightness as well. I'm also not a big fan of having melted chocolate chips make up the chocolate in the batter. I don't have high-end chocolate chips to use like I do with regular bittersweet bar chocolate that I use for baking. I compromised and use part Nestle chocolate chips and part Guittard chocolate.

I also cut this recipe in half and baked it in an 8 x 8-inch pan. It made for a thicker brownie than The Barefoot Contessa might've intended but nothing wrong with thick brownies. You just have to bake them longer. That said, these were pretty easy to make. I woke up unnaturally early Friday morning and had these baked off and out of the oven before I logged into work by 8 am. Oh, yeah, I also added M&M baking bits on top in lieu of nuts. Some of them sank since the batter wasn't very thick and they gravitated towards the middle. I think these brownies have too soft a texture to take add-ins very well.

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet
3. Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with ¼ cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate and cut into 20 large squares.

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