Here’s the ninth recipe in my exploration of Julia Child’s cookbooks in my own celebration in honour of the upcoming anniversary of her birth on August 15th, 100 years ago.
I’ve posted an attempt at brownies before (https://whatfoodimade.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/toffee-brownies/), but they weren’t the brownie I was looking for. I did try every one of them to see if they improved with age, or tasted different depending on what part of the pan they came from. That’s called scientific research. Not even the ducks could salvage that recipe.
This recipe from Cooking with Julia makes, for me, the perfect brownie. No special ingredients, no suggestion to add nuts. The method was a little different from other brownies I’ve tried, but nothing troublesome there. And the result is worth it. They turned out exactly as described below. Despite the fact that Julia Child didn’t write this book, I figure that her involvement raised up the game of everyone who was involved.
Here’s what happened:
Got the eggs.
And the chocolate.
Chopped the chocolate.
Sifted together the flour and salt.
Melted the butter and chocolate.
My tip: use the microwave to melt the chocolate.
Added sugar to the melted chocolate.
Mixed the some of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate.
Poured the batter into a baking dish.
Making the best-ever brownies even better: served with chocolate ice cream and dulce de leche.
from Baking With Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan.
Based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child.
Those who are passionate about brownies argue in defense of their favourite type, cakey or fudgey. If you’re a cakey fan, go on to another brownie recipe. These are the epitome of soft, dark, baked-just-until-barely-set brownies. Their creamy texture makes them seem wildly luxurious and very much a treat to be meted out in small servings (just small enough for a scoop of ice cream and some chocolate sauce).
1-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye on the pot to make certain the chocolate doesn’t scorch. (Alternatively, you can melt the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over, not touching, simmering water.) Add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a bowl of a mixer (or a mixing bowl if you’re using a hand-held mixer) and whisk by hand just to combine. Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don’t set from the heat. Fit the whisk attachment to the mixer and whip the remaining sugar and eggs until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Using the rubber spatula, delicately fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture. When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients.
Baking the Brownies
Pour and scrape the batter in to an unbuttered 9-inch square pan—a heavy ceramic or glass pan is ideal. Bake the brownies for 25-28 minutes, during which time they will rise a little and the top will turn dark and dry. Cut into the centre at about the 23-minute mark to see how the brownies are progressing: they’ll be perfect if they’re just barely set and still pretty gooey. They’re still awfully good on the other side of set, so don’t worry if you miss the moment on your first try. Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack. Cut into 1-1/2″ x 3-inch bars to serve.
The brownies will keep, covered for 2 to 3 days at room temperature and can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature. These never freeze solid, so you might want to think about using them as a mixture for ice cream.