Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa Brownies - made April 20, 2013 from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding
This was the third and last dessert I included in my Boston care packages.  Can't have a care package without some kind of brownie, right?  For the brownie base, I used one of the recipes from my Fat Witch Brownies baking book.  Past recipes I've tried from the book shows they're pretty rich and decadent.  This recipe uses cocoa for the chocolate punch and, as long as you use a high-quality cocoa, you can usually count on cocoa-based brownies to offer a deeper, darker chocolate flavor than brownies made only with unsweetened or semisweet chocolate.  That being the case, I knew I could add my nutella crunch topping as a good counterpoint for sweetness and crunch to pair with the dark richness of the brownie.  Because the whole point of making brownies is to make them as decadent as possible.  Otherwise, the chewing effort and calories won't be worth it.

Make the brownies as directed below.  You can leave them plain or click on the link in the previous paragraph for the nutella crunch topping (start with a half recipe or 2/3 of it, depending on how thick you want the topping layer to be).  I've made it so often, I just wing it when I'm putting it together: usually equal parts Nutella and chocolate chips melted together with a tablespoon (or so) of butter then once it's all melted, add as many Rice Krispies as you can work into the mixture.  If you want a more gooey topping, skimp on the Rice Krispies but I prefer to cram them in there for maximum crunch. Once it's completely cooled, cut into small pieces, eat one and give the rest away or wrap them up and put in your freezer for future consumption (these freeze well).  There's something about a decadent brownie that's meant to be savored and enjoyed, just enough to leave you satisfied but not so many that you feel sick and guilty afterwards if you eat too many.  Plus, your waistline will thank me later.  

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
  1. Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter.  Dust with flour and tap out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over low heat just until it is melted, but not brown.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and sugar to the butter and whisk until well blended.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each until the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Add the vanilla and whisk until mixed well.
  4. Measure the flour and salt and sift together into the batter.  Mix the batter gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
  5. At this point, if desired, stir in any extras like walnuts.
  6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Cut just before serving.

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