Living in the South/Texas definitely has its perks when it comes to eating. We have things like lemon icebox pie, shrimp and grits, and crawfish boils. We have fried chicken (siiiiiigh the only thing I miss as a veg), crazy delish biscuits, and roughly 11,364 people who claim that their mac and cheese is the best. Also, Paula Deen. And Tex-Mex. We do not, however, have a bakery by the name of Baked that has inspired a cult following. That bakery is in Brooklyn, and I am here in Wichita Falls.
Now. Let’s focus on what’s important here. You may or may not have heard about the brownies that they make at this place. It’s one of Oprah’s favorite things. (She probably gives them away, along with schools, trips to Australia, and humpback whales.) The Today Show said it was the best brownie ever, and I trust Matt Lauer (and Al Roker, and especially Hoda Kotb). America’s Test Kitchen, the authority on all things cooking and baking, also said it’s the bestest brownie. Do you really need any more proof that you need this brownie in your face right this second?
My lovely aunt got me one of Baked’s cookbooks as a gift, actually this one – Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Now I can make all my brownie dreams come true!!!! As well as all my Malt Ball Cake dreams, Sweet and Salty Cake dreams, and Peanut Butter Crispy Bar dreams. Pretty much you need this book.
Ok. This brownie is the end-all be-all of brownies. Probs due to the dark unsweetened cocoa and the 11 oz. of dark chocolate. These are simple things people, simple simple things. Simple things that make gorgeous, luscious brownies. They are thick and fudgy-ish, but not so rich that you can’t eat two. Or maybe that’s just me. Whatevs. Perhaps the best way to describe it is the first sentence on the recipe’s page in the cookbook: “The Baked Brownie is a beautiful thing.”
The recipe isn’t at all complicated, but I have a few tips for you to ensure that they’re flawless (some of them are included in the cookbook). First, use dark cocoa powder. It really enhances the chocolate flavor. Second, your eggs have to be at room temperature. This ensures that your brownies don’t end up flat and tough. Third, when you add the eggs, don’t overbeat the batter. You want them incorporated, but don’t go crazy with that whisk. That’s why we’re doing this by hand instead of with a mixer. Fourth, when it says fold in the flour, it means exactly that. When it says that some flour should be visible, leave some flour bits! I got really nervous about this part, but I put my faith in the brownie experts. Smart decision. Finally, don’t you dare overbake these suckers. If anything, err on the side of underbaked…they’ll continue to bake as they cool in the pan. Good brownies can be a lot of things (depending on how you like them)…cakey, fudgy, or flavored…but a good brownie is never dry.
Ready? I think you are. Go make some brownie history in your very own oven. Oh, and make sure you have some milk (soy/almond/rice/whatevs) on hand.
The Baked Brownie
Makes one 13×9 inch pan, or 24 brownies.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBS dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (= 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp instant espresso powder (don’t be afraid of this, it just enhances the chocolate flavor)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
5 large eggs, room temperature (you can either let them sit out for 30ish minutes or submerge them in warm water for a few minutes)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the center. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 inch glass or light metal baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
3. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (or in a fancy-pants double boiler), stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. (Mixture and eggs both at room temp…for easy emulsifying. See? These things are for a reason.)
4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do NOT overbeat at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. We’re making brownies here, not chocolate cake.
5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not your whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs. Don’t be afraid to check on your brownies often as your bake (preferably without letting out too much oven heat). Let the brownies cool in the pan on a wire rack completely, then cut into squares and serve. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Unless you have a pulse, in which case they won’t last nearly that long.
Recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Need I say that brownies are a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day? I didn’t think so. Let me know what you think of the recipe! Thanks for reading…happy baking…and have a great weekend!