Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thomas Keller's ad hoc Brownies

Oh, hello there brownies. Nice to meet you.

These brownies are serious business. The recipe is from Thomas Keller, and it involves three sticks of butter and two dark chocolate bars. So there's no messing around here. I made them for Valentine's Day but didn't write about them then because my pan wasn't the right size (it was close) so they didn't turn out exactly as they should have. But this time I did everything right, so I'm ready to share.

This recipe comes from Thomas Keller's ad hoc at home cookbook. As I was thumbing through it to get the the brownie recipe I came across all sorts of fun things I need to try - tapenades, pickled vegetables, apple butter, Here's his recipe exactly as it appears in the book:

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted cutter, cut into 1-Tbl. pieces
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
6 ounces 61 to 64% chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. We use a 9-inch square silicone mold, because it keeps the edges from overcooking; if you use a metal or glass baking pan, butter and flour it. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale.

Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a chocolate chip; then bake for a few minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature.

Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

And that's it! A few notes about the recipe - you can use Dutch process cocoa powder in place of unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder. I don't know if technically they're the exact same thing but with different names, or if they're slightly different but function in the same way. I used Droste brand, which is pretty easy to find. It's in a red box. And for the dark chocolate, I like Chocolove 61% which you can find at Whole Foods. Also, I used a silicone mold, and as you can see I didn't dust them with powdered sugar just because I wasn't serving them right away and didn't want the butter in the brownies to soak up the sugar.

So, this is kind of a weird thing to say, but I liked the brownies better on the second day. Obviously there's nothing better than warm baked goods fresh out of the oven, and the brownies were amazing while still warm. But I thought once all the butter in them had the chance to cool and solidify a bit, they were a little better. Either way, these are seriously, seriously good brownies.

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