All right, I admit, it’s sort of a weird opening shot. But it’s resolution number two around here…be better at recycling. It’s not that we haven’t recycled in the past. We never throw our used batteries in the trash, we drive old and used building materials to their respective recycling and salvage centers, and seriously – we recycled our old house again for another life. But we slacked on the day to day collection. Not anymore. It’s all in there, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s pretty satisfying. I even broke down the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate box and smoothed out the individual chocolate wrappers. Satisfying. But not as satisfying as what they went into.
So here it is, the world’s best brownie recipe straight from the experts at Cook’s Illustrated / America’s Test Kitchen:
Adjust your oven rack to the middle and line a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil overlapping the edges- it will take a few sheets to create a “sling” but it’s well worth this extra step. Spray the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine and 12 Tbs (1-1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Take a moment to bask in the glory of melting your own chocolate versus dumping the powdered stuff in the box into the bowl.
While it’s melting, whisk to combine 1-1/4 cup of cake flour – don’t use regular all-purpose here, 1/2 tsp of salt and 3/4 tsp of baking powder in a medium bowl. Gather 2-1/4 cups of sugar, 4 eggs and 1 Tbs of vanilla extract together and keep checking in on the melting chocolate.
Once the chocolate / butter is completely smooth carefully remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs in one at a time, whisking each until fully incorporated. Then whisk in the vanilla – smells beyond heavenly at this point. Add the flour mixture in three additions, folding in with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Transfer batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with toasted nuts if desired (I don’t) and cook in a 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about two hours (come on, who’s kidding here – thirty minutes is sufficient for the impatient). Lift the brownies by the foil sling and cut into squares and serve. They will keep three days in an airtight container at room temperature, but they’ll never last that long.
And this is it for the mess, so really, there’s no excuse. You don’t even really have to put the eggs and the vanilla in separate bowls, unless you harbor cooking show fantasies like I do. And they are much more fun to make when your best friends give you a handmade, silk screened apron to wear while you’re mixing. So print it out, and make some tonight. You have no excuse, unless of course, your New Year’s resolutions include less brownies.
And really, that’s no kind of resolution to make at all.