As it is with chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake, the search for the perfect brownie recipe goes on ad infinitum. Fudgy, cakey, with nuts, without nuts, caramel, mint-flavored, cappuccino, mocha, salted (the latest craze)—which, oh which one, should I try next? Despite a bulging manila folder and “bulging” Word file, I happily keep collecting brownie recipes. The only mystery is how there can be so many different variations of something so basic.
It’s interesting how adding or subtracting an egg or some flour changes the chemistry, resulting in a different texture. And I think in the case of brownies (with chocolate as a given), texture is what it’s all about—sinking one’s teeth into a dense, fudgy (or cakey!) brownie, with (or without!) nuts. I happen to be a nut fan; and, if you had told me years ago, that I would actually eat a brownie sans nuts, I would have said you were crazy. Well, as many of you know, once you have kids, you start them off without anything that could potentially choke them. There went my brownies with nuts! Then, once they’ve gotten used to brownies without nuts, most kids don’t like them any other way and you’re stuck with nut-less brownies. Sigh…
My first brownie offering to you, dear readers, is one that has been in the family for 30 years. My sister’s grandmother-in-law, Beema, gave the recipe to her; and my sister, in turn, gave it to me. Beema has long since passed on, but the recipe for Beema’s brownies will always be with us. They are dense and fudgy and get fudgier yet if you store them in the refrigerator. I always have the ingredients for them in my pantry and can whip them up at a moment’s notice.
So, on this portentous day (if you’re still with us), make a batch of these brownies. I guarantee you that they, at least, will disappear!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbl. instant espresso powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups chopped walnuts, optional
Grease and flour 13×9 pan.
Melt butter and baking chocolate together—you can choose to melt them on the stovetop on low or in the microwave following the directions for melting the chocolate (which is always on the back of the box). When the butter and chocolate are melted, set aside and let cool to lukewarm or room temperature. Cooling is important—it helps the chocolate flavor bloom.
Beat eggs until light and frothy. Add sugar and beat until mixture light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat well to combine. Mix in salt, instant espresso, and vanilla. Add flour and mix well; batter will be thick. Stir in nuts if using.
Spread in prepared pan and bake at 350o for approx. 28 to 30 mins.
Note: I prefer to beat by hand with a whisk and wooden spoon (once the batter gets thicker), but using a mixer is OK. I once read that whisking the ingredients for brownies rather than using an electric mixer will help prevent the top of the brownies from separating and crackling when you bite into them. It does help prevent that somewhat, but not totally. I know there are people who like that crackly top; so, if you prefer it that way, go ahead and use a mixer.
Source: Beema, my sister’s grandmother-in-law