Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best Cocoa Brownies

          Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies -- John Q. Tullius

This being the contingent truth, some of us favor cocoa and some of us chocolate. I belong to the latter category. I adore chocolate and all things baked with it. Bakes with melted chocolate get me to the kitchen faster than those with cocoa .Give me a recipe which has both and I will have one foot in the kitchen even before I bookmark it . Though I like cocoa and make sure I have some in the fridge at all times, my loyalties lie towards chocolate. A box of chopped dark chocolate is a must in my kitchen for all those times when I have to bake something chocolate and fast .So when I come across recipes which have both the words 'best' and 'cocoa' in them, I am tempted to try. Will this make a convert of me? Having discovered my love for dense, fudgy brownies (cakey brownies are just not my thing, well, cakey brownies are CAKES, why call them brownies??!!), I succumb to the temptation to bake some Best Cocoa Brownies. Little room for doubt when the recipe is by Alice Medrich and baked by one of my fav bloggers, Deb( who else?) of Smitten Kitchen.

Reading her post, I nod my head as I am certainly one of those folks who sincerely believe that  'all roads to fudgy, dark and rich brownies must be paved with bricks of tempered chocolate' Count me in please! But then she says, this brownie will make these folks eat humble pie...oh sorry, brownie and then make converts out of them - from 'Only chocolate for me' to ' Wow Cocoa, you have me sold!' or something to that effect. These brownies are rich, fudgy, very chocolaty and truly good.

Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet.  You can find Deb's recipe here

Unsalted butter, chopped - 141 grams / 10 tablespoons/ 1 1/4 sticks/ 5 ounces
Sugar - 280 grams /1 1/4 cups / 9 7/8 ounces ( I have measured 1 1/4 in my cup)
Unsweetened Cocoa powder , natural or Dutch-process - 82 grams /  3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 2 7/8 ounces
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Cold Eggs - 2, large (refer note)
All-purpose flour - 66 grams / 1/2 cup / 2 3/8 ounces
Walnut or pecan pieces - 2/3 cup (optional, I did not use)
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon ( I omitted this)

Procedure : Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C / 325°F . Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt (if using) in a medium sized microwave safe bowl and microwave on HIGH power for one minute, then 30 seconds each time, stirring in between ( Or place all of these in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water) Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet or microwave and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret says Deb — it should smoothen out once the eggs and flour are added. Note: Mine was not completely smooth even after adding the eggs and flour. See the picture above.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. I used a wooden spoon. This is some amount of effort as the batter will be quite thick, don't tell me I did not warn you! Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter,  mine took about 40 minutes. As Alice suggests 20-25 minutes, safer to check at 20 minutes, bake longer if needed. Let cool completely on a rack. I left my pan on the rack for quite some time, then left it in the fridge, covered with clingfilm overnight. I was determined to get cleaner cuts this time, kids away helped!

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. These are quite rich, my suggestion - make it 25 pieces.

Note : I am not sure if the mixture not being completely smooth (like Deb's) even after the addition of eggs and flour was in any way critical to the texture of the brownies. I was happy with mine. The top was not shiny either. I will next time use superfine sugar and see if there will be any notable difference.

Eggs : The eggs we get here weigh about 48 grams without shells which is the weight of large eggs without shells.

How we liked them : The Best Cocoa Brownies earned some brownie points in the eyes of a die-hard chocolate lover! To be baked again for sure!


Divya Kudua said...

Ooooh these brownies look sinful!!Love the dark chocolaty colour!!

Anonymous said...

u make it appear so simple suma...temoted to bake this recipe right now!

chef and her kitchen said...

I was craving for brownies in d morning n here u r tempting me to make them soon...I think its better if I go for that mw mug one 2 satisfy myself

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Brownies look simply heavenly. Lovely looking dessert. I can travel miles just to have a piece of it.

Hamaree Rasoi

Aarthi said...

This dish looks mouthwatering..Totally Yumm..


Unknown said...

Sure the best..looks so perfectly baked..yummm

Veena Appiah said...

Hey. Thanks for the brownie recipe. Will definetly try it soon. Had one question. Not connected with brownies. How do you get stiff peaks in cream. I use the amul cream. Have tried many options but none of them work. I have a hand held mixer. Please help me. Thanks. Veena

divya said...

Looks so moist and inviting, Luv all those clicks

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

its been ages I baked browinies. have bookmarked your last brownie recipe...gonna try some real son.

Deepika Vijay said...

Hi Suma,
The BROWNIES looks awesome..sure will taste good too.. Iam totally new to bangalore and also baking..ur blog is my cookbook now.. many many thanks for all the useful info on baking, especially for the post regarding where to get the baking stuffs...Keep going..Ur food is a good treat for tummy and ur fotos r good treat for eyes..

Priya Suresh said...

Yep the best brownies, looks super fabulous..

Rachana said...

The brownies have come out perfect. I wouldn't mind a big piece :-)

Veena said...

I love these fudgy ones compared to cakey..!! very inviting..!!

Myvegfare said...

super brownies, now you are tempting me to bake them :), everybody in my house would die for this :), Inbtw beautiful clicks dear

zareena.b said...

Perfect shots and perefctly done too. Tempting brownies.

Shri said...

Hi Suma, I chanced upon your blog a couple of weeks ago and I must say that your blog is indeed a marvel ! truly a treasure for likes of me who love baking but are damned scared about the whole baking affair. And kudos to your effort in putting up here all your knowledge gathered (special mention to the 'where do I get this in B'lore' Q). Truly amazing work :) I have had my share of yeast battles and each bread baked was a new avatar. So I just kept this away for a few months, after reading your blog I do definitely want to step in there once again. I have two Qs':
1. In the "Best Cocoa brownies' recipe, you said "Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt (if using) in a medium sized microwave safe bowl and microwave on HIGH power for one minute, then 30 seconds each time, stirring in between" - would you remember how many such 30 seconds microwaving would need to get the right consistency?
2. Bread baking - You opine Instant yeast over fresh yeast and prefer Gloripan brand. Is that available at IBCA else, is the brand that is available at IBCA meeting your bread baking requirement?

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi Shri! Thanks so much, you made my day! About microwaving the butter& Cocoa, sorry, did not note down the number of 30 seconds, may be a minute first, then 30 secs twice? Also depends on your mwave, do experiment. Gloripan yeast is available most of the times at IBCA and GA too, do call to make sure. Hope this helps, and hope to see you around again!

Shri said...

Hi Suma! firstly thank you so much for clearing my Qs immediately. I had my mind set on baking the Cocoa Brownies last week, but last week there were few other sweets in my experimentation agenda so had to wait for this week and finally baked them last night. I followed your recipe to the 'T' and they turned up just yummy. Your tip about cooling them in the fridge overnight worked very well, first thing I did this morning was cut them and quickly wanted to post this msg to you but with all the morning chores I had to keep my excitement within me and wait for this hour to write. Thank you !!!!! your recipe is very good and your thoughtfulness about sharing all aspects to get it RIGHT is very kind of you (in most other blogs, the recipe is made to sound so simple but when it comes to working hands on I see so many glitches, not to mention the sourcing or the brand of the ingredients). Am not exaggerating, your blog is going to be my baking bible henceforth:)
I bought the yeast from IBCA so that's up for next week's baking. Will post soon about my next round of bread baking.....keeping fingers crossed for now.

Anonymous said...

Your brownies look yummy! Have made these a few times - I grind the sugar after measuring, and add half a tsp of baking powder to lighten them up a bit. The tops come out nice and shiny. The texture is quite like yours, very dense. Love them!

Anonymous said...

Hi Suma,

Let me start by saying that these are awesome. I do have a query though, the taste of cocoa powder is overwhleming so much so that it does taste a little bitter - might be due to the brand of cocoa I use. Can I reduce the amount of cocoa by say a TBP or 2? Do I need to subtitute it by equal amount of flour in order to maintain the consistency? Your help will be highly appreciated!!

Suma Rowjee said...

Hi!Glad you loved the brownies! In case you have measured and not weighed the ingredients including cocoa, that could explain the bitterness (more cocoa, or less flour, less sugar)You could try swapping some flour for cocoa but the brownies may be a little less chocolaty.

Unknown said...

Hi...tried your recipe suma.tasted good but was burnt little on the sides. But was a great hit with my son n his friends. We had it with Hershey chocolate syrup.
Thank you for all the details, is a great help to starters like me