Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts







These are incredible little brownies. Moist, dense and fudgy in the middle. Chewy on the outside with a wafer thin candy-like crust. Bon Appétit featured these decadent wee wonders on their February 2011 cover. It piqued my interest even more with the huge text proclaiming "Best-Ever Brownies," heralding an entire feature section devoted to chocolate desserts penned by none other than Alice Medrich — an author, dessert chef and chocolatier who has been affectionately called 'The First Lady of Chocolate.'





Alice Medrich -  'The First Lady of Chocolate' 

Alice Medrich's cookbook that features her Cocoa Brownie recipe 
and more 'sinfully easy and delicious desserts!'



I was delighted when a brownie opportunity presented itself recently. A troupe of young nieces were expected for a weekend dinner, so the challenge was on. The recipe is quite simple and requires very few ingredients: butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, eggs, flour and walnuts. The result after 35 minutes in the oven was sensationally squidgy and sinfully delicious. The only problem was that I ignored part of the recipe — a big no-no. Medrich calls for the brownie pan to be lined with foil, which as it turns out, helps in getting the blighters out of the pan. Good point. Next time, I'll follow the recipe and line the pan. It didn't affect the flavour though, judging from all the chocolatey smiles!





Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter & Walnuts
Makes 16
Recipe by Alice Medrich 

Non-stick vegetable oil spray
10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts pieces


Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line the inside of an 8" x 8" square metal baking pan with aluminum foil, pressing foil firmly against the pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat the foil with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until the butter stops foaming, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, and immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons of water, vanilla and 1/4 generous teaspoon of salt. Stir to blend, then let cool 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the hot mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until well blended. Mix in the chopped nuts, and transfer to the prepared pan, smoothing the top before baking. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or more, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. If there is still a tiny bit of moist batter at the very bottom that's okay. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil overhangs; then pull the aluminum foil away from the brownies and cut them into 16 square pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to three days.