Monday, March 7, 2011

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

If there is one sweet I am a total sucker for, it's brownies. There's something about the intense chocolate flavor, shiny crusty crackly top, and versatility (icing/no icing; nuts/no nuts; chocolate chunks/no chunks) that I cannot resist. But finding a "from scratch" recipe that tasted and looked as good as my boxed mix standby proved to be a challenge.

Some recipes tasted good, but didn't have the shiny-crusty top that I love. Some were too crumbly and dry. Some were too chewy, verging on fudge rather than brownie. But in my effort to continue to reduce our processed food intake, I searched on.

Enter the fine people at Cook's Illustrated and their chewy, fudgy, triple chocolate brownies. These brownies are pretty much perfect. As the name suggests, they are chewy and fudgy, but still have a great brownie consistency. Using good quality chocolate is the key to this recipe, so don't skimp out by using Nestle chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain about a third-less cocoa butter than chocolate bars, which allows them to keep their shape in cookies, but makes them thicker and less than ideal for melting. If that's all you have and are dying for some homemade brownies, by all means try it. But spring for a nice bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet or semisweet chocolate the next time.

Another really important note when working with chocolate in a double boiler: Do not allow that chocolate to come in contact with water. All your utensils/cookware should be dry when starting and be sure to use really dry hands when working with the chocolate. Water is to chocolate as kryptonite is to Superman. There are times when it's okay to add chocolate to water (and I have a stellar recipe I'll be sharing soon), but it doesn't happen often.

Click on the photo below for a closer view of the steps:

I ended up using a 4 oz. bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, 2 oz. of a semi-sweet chocolate bar,  1 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, with the cocoa powder and it worked out beautifully. I guess mine were really Chewy, Fudgy Quadruple Chocolate brownies. Whatever you call them, they are divine  and about 100x better than a box. Enjoy!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
Yield: One 8"x8" pan
5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ oz.) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour

Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated.  Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer.  Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into squares as desired.  Store in an air-tight container.

Source: Annie's Eats, adapted from Baking Illustrated

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