I am a baker's daughter. This means that I grew up walking in to a home that smelled like fresh, warm, homemade bread. It also means that I had (quite literally) never heard of brownies from a box until I was a sophomore in High School. My mother, a baker and a chocolate lover, has never made brownies in anyway but the best way. In one pan, from a base of melted chocolate. This year, she perfected her recipe--which she calls "Classic Chocolate Brownies." I think you will agree, however, these are so much MORE than classic chocolate brownies. There's a nice kick of Kahlua liqueur that makes these just-the-right-amount-of ooey-gooey. And the instant espresso brings out different, deeper notes in the chocolate, as coffee always does to chocolate.
I wrote the recipe a bit differently this time, instructing you to prepare for baking these in the exact way that I do: I measure and set everything out first, put the containers away, and then can toss everything in (in order) as soon as the chocolate mixture cools. It is convenient, and that way you can concentrate on conversations while you cook without worrying that you'll end up with double the flour or sugar in your mixture because you've lost count. Without further ado, then, I give you "The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies."
4 ounces Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate baking bar (1 bar)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/8 teaspoon Medaglia D'oro Instant Espresso Coffee
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon Kahlua liqueur
2 large eggs
1 cup flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted for 10 minutes at 350 degrees *
Confectioners' Sugar for dusting (optional)
*My boyfriend dislikes nuts in his brownies, so if you mustn't add them--I guess I'll understand. They are, of course, optional.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 8"x8" square or 9" round pan.
Sift or whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and instant espresso, and in another (much smaller) bowl, combine the vanilla and Kahlua. Set these aside, too.
Bring your eggs to room temperature by gently submerging them in a glass of warm (not hot) water.
Is that your oven, all preheated and ready to go? Well, then, put 1/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans on a cookie sheet (with edges) and toast for 10 minutes--be sure to turn the nuts at least once during this time. And, be quite careful not to burn them (if you can smell them, it is probable that they are done.)
Alright, now you're ready to go. Break up the Ghiradelli chocolate bar, and the cut up cold butter and place in a medium saucepan (or pot), over low heat. Use a whisk to create a smooth mixture of the two, as they melt. Once the mixture is smooth, take it off the heat and walk away for 5-10 minutes and allow it to cool. It doesn't need to be room temperature, but it needs to be cool enough so that it doesn't cook the eggs you're about to add.
When the chocolate and butter mixture has cooled:
- Stir in brown sugar mixture.
- Add eggs (now room temperature), mixing well.
- Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
- Stir in chips and nuts.
- Pour batter into prepared pan
- Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tester comes out with just a little bit of dough (almost clean)
- When the brownies reach room temperature (or, you know, almost room temperature) lightly dust with sifted confectioners' sugar. You should have about 12 brownies.
- Enjoy. Then, share with friends--if you've got any left.