You might notice that I'm participating in more link parties as evidenced by the button at the bottom of some posts that'll take you to the link parties. Link parties are something I've only just discovered this year and it's been nice to be invited to join, find new foodie blogs and get exposed to so many different recipes and vice versa. I know it's common in the blogosphere to link the same post to many different link parties but I'm an anomaly in that I try not to do that if I can help it. Many of them have the same audience and I figure people will get sick of seeing the same thing from me on each of them. I try to link only 1 or 2 link parties to the same post and instead find different recipes to link. So if you ask me to link a particular post to your link party and I link something else, I'm not willfully ignoring you but chances are I've either already linked it elsewhere or plan to. It's just a quirk. Now on to this recipe....
I love Jan Karon's Mitford books about Father Tim, an aging Episcopalian priest, and his hometown friends in Mitford. My favorite line from the very first book in the series, At Home in Mitford, is Father Tim's first thought upon waking was, "Father, make me a blessing to someone today...." What a great way to frame your day and get yourself out of bed.
Food plays an important role in Mitford books and the Mitford Cookbook is a compilation of recipes of the food mentioned in the books as well as excerpts from the books themselves. If you've read the series, it's a nice walk down memory lane to revisit the books. Perhaps the most famous dessert in the series is Esther's Marmalade Cake. In one instance, it even sent Father Tim into a diabetic collapse. I always thought Esther's Marmalade Cake sounded delicious and toyed with the idea of making it (yes, the recipe is in this book). However, although I like orange cake, I don't care for marmalade and that's what comprises the top layer or frosting in the recipe. So I went with this brownie recipe instead (Harley is a character in the books in case you were wondering) as I needed brownies for giving away and I also wanted to try some chocolate from the Philippines. My dad's cousin, Tita Aline, was there late last year and brought this back and her husband Allan was kind enough to send me some to try in baking. At first I wasn't sure if it was a dark bittersweet chocolate or unsweetened chocolate but after sampling it, I decided to treat it as an unsweetened chocolate since it was pretty bitter when eaten "straight".
I didn't beat the egg mixture as long as 10 minutes but seeing that in the directions made me suspect this brownie would have a crust and a more delicate crumb than most brownies since beating it that much will incorporate a lot of air into it. The crust forms because beating eggs for that long causes them to form a meringue-like top. I omitted the nuts and chocolate chunks. Instead, I "snicker-ized" these brownies, meaning about 5-10 minutes before they were done baking, I scattered chopped-up Snickers on top of them and let them bake until they melted into gooey madness over the top of the brownies. Just for something different.
These brownies came out pretty well. The brownie itself is a bit fragile with a delicate crumb so I'm glad I put the Snickers on top and not in the brownie itself. I think any add-ins in the brownie itself would've been too much of a contrast and/or the brownie would've been too delicate to hold anything sturdy like nuts or even chocolate chips. On top was just fine. I made these and sent some home with my niece to share with her sister over the weekend - got a call from the kids later and this got a thumbs up as the favorite in the batch of 4 things I'd baked for them.
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup White Lily all-purpose flour (my area doesn't sell White Lily so I used Gold Medal)
1 ½ cups mini Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses or chocolate chunks
1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Place the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at medium powder for 5 to 8 minutes (or melt in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water). Stir and let cool completely.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate.
4. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the Kisses and pecans and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth out evenly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely before cutting into squares.