I have made these brownies no less than three times in the last month. Considering the fact that I have made several other types of baked goods in that time as well, that is a LOT of brownies.
These brownies are a slight adaptation from a Cooks Illustrated recipe that I got when I was a subscriber back in 2007. As a food scientist and someone who used to do product development for a living, I LOVE the America’s Test Kitchen approach to recipe development as well as the presentation of their process in the magazines they print.
What I refer to as THE PERFECT Brownies, Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate** (or a blend)
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
the caviar of one vanilla bean
**I like to use a combination of 60% cocoa and unsweetened cocoa bars from Ghiradelli. I’m not sure how I came to this conclusion, but it works and I’m sticking to it!
Heat oven to 325, line a 13×9 baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. YUM… I want to lick the spoon already!!!
Once its all melty and smooth, pour the chocolate/butter into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar and vanilla. When that is smooth, add the eggs one at a time, whisking until completely combined after each egg. You will watch the batter go from grainy and lumpy to this beautiful, glossy creation that is almost too gorgeous to bake. Once all the eggs are in, add the flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. Switch to a spatula for this, and gently fold in the flour with each addition until well combined.
Once all the flour is incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Don’t bother scraping the bowl too well or you won’t have anything left to enjoy for the next two or three hours! Just kidding (not really) — be careful because this batter has a LOT of raw eggs in it, so lick that spoon at your own risk.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes. I like to err on the side of a little undercooked, resulting in a moister, fudgier brownie. The original recipe has a lot of information about checking for doneness but honestly it just takes a few batches of trial and error with your own oven and depending on your own tastes. One disclaimer: in the last 10 minutes of baking a lot can happen so watch closely because those fudgy delights can go all dry and cakey pretty fast. They still taste good, but not nearly as glorious.
Here comes the rough part: when done baking, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes or so. Then lift the foil and remove the brownies from the pan and let stand until completely cool. This takes another hour or so. True story: once (ok maybe a few times) I tried to speed up this process by removing the foil-clad brownies before they cooled a bit. Not a good idea, they were too soft & warm and cracked and made a big (still delicious) mess. Also, cutting these before completely cook spoils the rest of the pan because it breaks the slightly crisp “from scratch” brownie crust and releases moisture from the rest of brownies.
Once cool, cut the brownies into reasonable sized servings and enjoy, or store in an airtight container (and hide from your family OR give away to friends depending on your mood… “Mine! All Mine!” OR “What have I done?! I’ll be as big as a house!!”).
And as always, a fresh glass of milk makes for the perfect pair.