the first time i made homemade brownies was two and a half years ago. september 9, 2008, to be exact. jason and i had just moved in together and i was just starting to ditch boxed mixes and attempt things from scratch. one saturday, jason had a special request for brownies. attempting to impress him, i made the first recipe for brownies i could find. they were perfect.
i've never touched a box brownie mix since. if anything will make you a converter to the "make from scratch" camp, it's a homemade brownie.
these perfect brownies had it all. they were rich and dense and fudgy. had a perfect crackly crust. and didn't taste greasy or mushy in your mouth. they held their shape when cut. perfect. perfect. perfect.
the only problem is, i have no idea what recipe i used. so i've spent the last two and a half years trying to either find (a) that exact same recipe - the chance finding it is slim to none - or (b) one that's at least as good or maybe, just maybe, even better.
and since one of us has a brownie craving about once a year, the process of discovering the perfect one is slow and steady.
after hearing ina gush one too many times about making her brownies for jeffrey for the last 20+ years, i bought a giant sheet pan and made a batch. i know this is going to sound crazy, but i didn't care for them. don't get me wrong, i love ina. it's just the brownies were way, way, way too rich for me.
on to a year later, when cook's illustrated featured the "best chewy brownie: we crack the code." sounds like a potential contender. it only took a couple months for jason and i to have a brownie craving in the middle of the week. these babies were whipped up in one weekday evening.
and they were good. chewy, with a nice, thick, crackly crust.
like chewy brownies? then this one's for you. because chewy, they definitely are. almost too chewy. sounds weird, right? i don't care for cake like brownies, but these needed a bit more cakey-ness to them. and they stuck horribly to the aluminum foil. i had to literally flip the brownies over and peel the foil from the bottom. i chalk that one up to not spraying the foil enough.
long story short, the search continues for the perfect brownie. any suggestions?
adapted from cook's illustrated, march & april 2010
20 min prep, 40 min bake, 2 hour cool; makes 24 brownies
1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate cut into small pieces
- preheat your oven to 350F and move the rack to the lowest position. line a 9 x 13 inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing the ends to overhang the pan. this will make it easier to lift the brownies out of the pan once cool. generously spray the foil with nonstick spray.
- whisk cocoa and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
- whisk in melted butter and oil. add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. whisk in sugar until smooth.
- add flour and salt and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.
- fold in the chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate.
- pour into the pan and distribute evenly. bake about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.
- transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- use the ends of the aluminum foil to lift the brownies out of the pan. transfer to a cutting board, cut, and serve.