I’ve met a few women who don’t like chocolate and I can’t begin to explain to you the mental anguish that hearing this news first caused me. I thought craving chocolate was part of being a woman, in the same way that giving birth and going through “the Change” are hallmarks of our particular species. Women who don’t like chocolate? That’s preposterous. But apparently it’s true. They exist. And if you’re one of those women, you can just stop reading now, because these are the chocolatiest, richest, yummiest, bestest brownies ever. Period.
This is the second batch of brownies that I made this week. I attempted Food Network’s Smores Brownies first. I made smores brownies ages ago and enjoyed them and wanted to try them again. The concept is simple, and yet genius: a layer of graham cracker crust, brownies, and a top layer of marshmallows are placed under the broiler just until golden brown. While all of this sounds amazing, smores brownies are such a major pain to serve (have you ever really thought about how sticky marshmallows are?!?) that I’ve sworn them off forever.
I wanted “real” brownies. Brownies that are nothing more than a lot of chocolate, a chunk of butter, and a bit of sugar (but not too much! These should be brownies, not fudge!). I went straight to Cook’s Illustrated. I was preparing to take these on vacation and wasn’t about to have my vacation tainted by a yummy-sounding-but-icky-tasting batch of brownies. I knew Cook’s Illustrated would not fail me, and I was right. These brownies are the epitome of brownie perfection. They are thick, gooey, rich, decadent, and solid chocolate. Cook’s Illustrated recommends cutting them into 1-inch squares because they are so rich that few people can eat more than that. If it weren’t for the fact that my pants still don’t fit as well as they used to, I might have thrown their serving suggestion to the wind and just eaten the entire tray in one sitting.
my favorite brownies
5 oz semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I prefer bittersweet)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; overhang will help in removal of baked brownies. Fit second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners, and level surface with rubber spatula; bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)