Dark. Rich. Decadent. This brownie is over the top from its high quality ingredients to all its acclaim as the “Best Brownie”. Oprah even named it one of her favorite things and for some reason when Oprah says its her favorite somehow its gotta be a favorite of ours too. From the moment I saw this recipe in my newly purchased Baked:New Frontiers in Baking cookbook I knew I had to find out what all the fuss was about.
Let’s start with the ingredients. This recipe required quite a few specialty ingredients: quality dark baking chocolate, Valrhona cocoa powder, and instant espresso powder. Took a few phone calls to find the elusive Valrhona cocoa powder, but I finally tracked it down at my local Sur la table. Next was the dark baking chocolate which I also found at Sur la Table. I decided to go with Scharffen Berger Dark Baking Chocolate (62% cacao) which was one of the suggested brands. Buying the best ingredients comes at a hefty price. One 6 oz. Scharffen Berger bar was $8.50 and a box of Valrhona cocoa powder was $10.50. Taking another look at my shopping list I realized I needed 11 oz. of chocolate, so I had to grab one more bar and that brought my total to $27.50 for just those two ingredients. Ouch. This is when the fear started to set in. What if it doesn’t turn out? What if I completely hate it? I’d hate to waste the most expensive brownie I’ve ever made. Not gonna lie here, I’m a brownie mix type of girl. Betty Crocker $2.99 box mix to be exact and I think it tastes better than some of the from scratch recipes I’ve tried in the past.
High end ingredients in hand, the moment of truth was just a recipe away. The process was relatively simple: combine dry ingredients, melt chocolate, mix, and bake. I made sure to be extra careful, following the directions closely and rechecked that I didn’t leave out any steps or ingredients. About 27 minutes later my brownies where baked and ready to be cooled. The aroma of deep rich chocolate filled my kitchen and it smelled so delicious. It was hard to be patient and wait until the brownies cooled before I could cut myself a piece, but when I did let me tell you it was unlike any other brownie I’ve tasted. So chocolately, so fudgy, so moist, and oh so yummy! I could really taste what a difference quality chocolate and cocoa powder could make. The chocolate taste was much more richer and deeper. I absolutely love dark chocolate and this brownie exudes dark chocolate to the point that I can’t help but love it. So, know I now exactly why this Baked Brownie was dubbed the “Best Brownie” and why it’s Oprah’s favorite and now it’s mine too. Don’t get me wrong, I still have love for my Betty Crocker brownie mix which is much more wallet friendly, but now I’ll have a favorite brownie recipe for those special occasions that will help it make it even more special and decadent.
The Baked Brownie
from Baked:New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Yield: 24 brownies
Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but here are a few pointers: 1) Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth. 2) Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter. 3) Make sure you check your brownies as they bake. An even slightly overbaked brownie is not a Baked Brownie.
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp Valrhona dark cocoa powder
- 11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely (I used Scharffen Berger Dark Baking Chocolate (62% cacao))
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9 by 13 inch pan. (Quick tip: I used the wrappers of the butter to grease my pan. Fast and simple.)
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder together.
Place the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (creating a double boiler), stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk) fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until there is just a bit flour visible.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the brownies in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the brownies. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.
Tightly covered with plastic wrap or in an air tight container, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.