Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Perfect Brownie

I have been on a quest.  Searching for the perfect no-fail brownie.  Too many are very cakey or too fudgey.  Now, whether you are a brownie with nuts, powder-sugared covered, or blanketed by frosting brownie lover, you can understand my quest.

My mother used to make THE best brownies ever. After a long day at school, I can remember walking in the house and that chocolatey-fugdey smell would greet me at the door.  Always warm out of the pan, these brownies had a wonderfully shiney top crust.  I am a brownie lover who does not want nuts nor the frosting.  Just plain with light dusting of powdered sugar.  This is how she always made them. We were given one as her way of welcoming us home and a way of her showing her love for us.

Now, unfortunaely for me, my mother is not the best recipe keeper in the world.  Boxes, books, and paper bags stored the hundreds and hundreds of recipes she would collect.  In my opinion, her brownies were the best.  But, the recipe has disappeared into the vast collection she has or lost in one of her moves. 

I believe I have found a brownie recipe that has come closest to the blast from my past I enjoyed as a child.  I tested this recipe as a dessert to bring to a party hosted by my very good friend from college, Carla.  As fate would have it, Carla now works with Kevin.  I will try these brownies again without the nuts to see how they match my mothers.  Mom, if you are reading best be looking for that recipe now!

Classic Brownies

1  cup pecans or walnuts; chopped
1 1/4  cups cake flour
1/2  teaspoon salt
3/4  teaspoon baking powder
6  ounces unsweteded chocolate, chopped fine
12  tablespoons unsalted butter; cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4  large eggs
1  tablespoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in middle of oven.  Line a 13x9-inch pan with foil.  Use two pieces, one going in each direction.  Leave approximately 2-inches overhang.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. If using nuts, spread chopped nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 9 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Whisk to combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4.  Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bow set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.  When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove  bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar.  Add eggs one 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. 

5.  Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smoothing surface.  Sprinkle toasted nuts evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies come 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 in an airtight container.

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