Happy 2nd birthday, HTEAC! My, how you've grown! It seems like only yesterday I was typing ".blogspot.com" after your name. Now you've established yourself on the almighty interweb and changed your last name to ".net!" No matter what, you'll always be my little baby blog!
As always, I really want to say thank you to every pair of eyes that has ever graced my pages, as well as every set of fingers that have typed a comment. Thank you to all of you who don't click "Spam" when you get my e-mail updates in your inbox. Thank you to all of you who send pictures showing what a great job you did recreating the recipes you've seen here! Thank you to the many of you who have actually sent me things by mail, just out of the kindness of your hearts (PS: Maela, I'm going to pick up your package from the post office on Monday!)! And most importantly, thanks to everyone who puts up with my mindlessness when I forget things, like including the amount of flour in the Whoopie Pie recipe! I wouldn't maintain this blog if it wasn't for all of my readers, so give yourselves a hug and then make these brownies!
By now, my most faithful readers probably know that I'm not the biggest chocoholic in the world. Don't get me wrong, chocolate is A-OK in my book. But given the choice between chocolate or vanilla, 8 times out of 10 I'm gonna pick vanilla! On that note, I'm going to tell you why I don't absolutely love these Cook's Illustrated brownies. First of all, I didn't really discover until today that I prefer cake brownies over fudge brownies... meaning I prefer them more on the fluffy side with just a hint of chewy fudginess. These "Classic Brownies" are definitely for fudge-lovers! They're made with cake flour, so that pretty much ditches any hope that they'll be chewy. They are extremely dense and fudgy when baked according to CI's instructions. My inspiration to make these brownies came from Smitten Kitchen, and she mentions that if they're baked longer, they'll be cakey. I'm not going to take that chance. My next brownie venture will be with a recipe that specifically caters to the chewy characteristic of my ideal brownie. And I'll also be looking for a recipe with a little less sugar, because these were almost tooth-achingly sweet.
Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my dear blog!
Classic Brownies (from Cook’s Illustrated)
1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1¼ cups (5 ounces) cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2¼ cups (15¾ ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or, ahem, in the freezer until your resistance gets the better of you.)
[printable recipe coming soon]