Brownies are the ultimate cheap trick; it takes less than five minutes to throw the classic recipe together, they bake in a flash - and everybody loves them.
Having so few ingredients means that making them better is remarkably easy. Replace the ordinary ingredients with spectacular ones and you end up with something that is rich, deeply chocolate and lingers in your memory like a wonderful dream.
But here’s the thing: Because the recipe is so simple, the technique will change it enormously. In my favorite version, I double the ingredients in the classic recipe and then use a stand mixer to whip the eggs and sugar into a frenzy. The result is a taller brownie with a deep fudge-like interior and a crackling meringue-like top that crunches when you take a bite. (Stir by hand, and you’ll end up with a denser, thinner brownie that some people prefer.)
Your reward for using the finest ingredients? A brownie that combines sweetness with the rich sophisticated complexity of chocolate - a little bite of childhood wrapped in a very grown-up package.
A Better Brownie
Makes 8 2" brownies
2/3 cup (5 ounces) unsalted high-fat butter (like European or European-style butters)
5 ounces unsweetened excellent chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons best-quality vanilla extract
4 farm fresh organic eggs
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup all-purpose white flour, sifted
1. To prepare the pan, butter a 9x9 square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the bottom again and lightly dust the pan with chocolate or cocoa powder.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4. Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned quite white. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
5. Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
7. Invert the pan, remove the parchment paper and invert again onto a cutting surface. Cut into squares.
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