Friday, September 10, 2010

Cocoa Brownies, A Success Story

Cocoa Brownies 2

So do you remember that ill-fated day when I attempted to make brownies from America's Test Kitchen? It was pretty embarrassing, let me tell you. You want to know something even more embarrassing? That post is the most viewed post on my blog. I think I'll just sink down really low in my desk chair and hope that the embarrassment will pass (a tactic that works wonders in class, by the way).

But I've never been one to submit to defeat. Even though my baking pride was wounded and I felt tragically incompetent, I knew that successful brownies were within my reach. Thousands upon thousands of other bakers have successfully made brownies from scratch, so why not me? I couldn't think of a good answer to that, and I therefore gathered my ingredients, preheated the oven, and tried again.

And guess what? I am proud to say that I succeeded. I . Made. Successful. Brownies.


Sorry for the outburst, I'm just really excited about my delicious brownies. I got my recipe from Smitten Kitchen (wow, that's two in a row on my blog - I guess we all know who I like to go to for inspiration now...), and I admit that I was a little hesitant about making pure cocoa powder brownies without any actual melted chocolate in them, but I just went for it.

Cocoa Brownies

Unlike last time, I made sure I took them out even though they didn't look quite done, because I knew that over-baking was my downfall last time. I anxiously waited for them to cool so that I could cut one and figure out whether my second brownie endeavor was a failure or not. When I took my first bite, I knew I had made a winning batch. They had a satisfying chew to them and oh so much chocolaty flavor that a large, large glass of milk is definitely a must for consuming this dessert. In fact, these brownies were so good that my roommate pointed out something to me that I have no qualms about:

She said to me, "Anna, how many brownies did you make?" 
She held up the number 10. 
Continuing, she said, "How many did I eat?" 
She held up the number 1.
"And... how many are left?" Three.

After this conversation took place, I promptly ate two of the remaining three brownies. For dinner. Gosh they were good.

Cocoa Brownies 3

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 25 smaller brownies (I halved my recipe, which is why I had 10)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time until butter is completely melted. Stir the mixture until it is smooth (it will look fairly gritty).
3. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. 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. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

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