We have a very nice neighbor. He helped Nate shovel his car out of the snow last winter and he puts our newspaper outside our door we so don’t have to go down to the main landing to get it. He also tells our extremely loud neighbor to be quiet, which is huge in my book. He’s a pretty cool dude. We decided to make him brownies to express our gratitude, and also because Nate loves brownies.
In fact, Nate loves brownies so much that he made them from scratch once when I wasn’t home (I guess he wasn’t getting his regular baked-goods fix). And not just any brownies, but these brownies. Cook’s Illustrated brownies. Good brownies. Nate claims that I undercooked the brownies (they were significantly flatter than his…), but I think they’re just right. I like my brownies mushy and just-undercooked. These are so mushy, in fact, that if you look closely at the picture you can, uh, see my thumb-print. True story:
Maybe I could have left them in the oven for another 5 minutes. However that’s somewhat of a moot point right now, since they’re pretty much all eaten up. All I know is that they taste good, there are huge chocolate chunks, and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
These also make an excellent brownie sundae. One of my friends from grad school, Holly, was in town, and I’d just made these brownies, and we happened to have ice cream in the freezer. We cut up the brownies, spooned on the ice cream, drizzled on the chocolate sauce and whipped up some cream, making one of the best brownie sundaes I’ve had in quite some time. In fact, Holly told me that she would want to be reincarnated as my child. It’s an odd compliment, but, hey, I’ll take it!
(From Cook’s Illustrated)
|1/3||cup Dutch-processed cocoa|
|1 1/2||teaspoons instant espresso (optional)|
|1/2||cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water|
|2||ounces unsweetened chocolate , finely chopped|
|4||tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter , melted|
|1/2||cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil|
|2||large egg yolks|
|2||teaspoons vanilla extract|
|2 1/2||cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar|
|1 3/4||cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour|
|3/4||teaspoon table salt|
|6||ounces bittersweet chocolate , cut into 1/2-inch pieces|
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Referring to directions in Making a Foil Sling (related), make sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.
Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.