Friday, May 31, 2013

Best Cocoa Brownies

Best Cocoa Brownies
The title of this blog, as true as it is, is not my own creation. It is the name of this brownies recipe. I kid you not. The wonderful and chocolate genius Alice Medrich named it as the "Best Cocoa Brownies" in her "Bittersweet" book, and she is right. They are the best brownies I ever had in my life. I discovered Alice Medrich few years ago and ever since, I have successfully bought every single book she wrote. They were all used books since the majority of her books are out of print. Some are pricy, for a used book, but I have no regrets. Every recipe I made was a success: rich and decadent chocolate flavor but not too sweet. Just the way I like.
I often find myself automatically cutting down on the amount of sugar in most American dessert recipes because most Americans prefer their dessert on the sweeter side. I follow Ms. Medrich recipes to the t and success is my companion every time. The best news about this recipe is that you dont need any special equipment, no stand mixers, no food processor..however, you need high quality ingredients. I use organic butter, flour, eggs and sugar and high quality Cocoa powder. After all, these are the Best Cocoa Brownies! If you start with high quality ingredients, you will have high quality result. 

Best Cocoa Brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold, large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

8 inch square baking pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325℉.

Line the bottom and sides of a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water.


Cocoa Powder


Heat proof bowl over pot with simmering water
Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
My mixture is not very smooth because I use organic unrefined cane sugar  (big crystals)
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon.  Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
Eggs one at a time
Shiny mixture
When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
Add flour
Stir in the nuts, if using.  Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Add Nuts, I used Almonds and Walnuts
Spred evenly
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
Let cool off completely (very hard)
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board.  Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Irresistible to little hands
Recipe by: Alice Medrich, from her cookbook "Bittersweet"

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