Brownies

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem a bit out of sorts today.  It was a trying weekend around these parts.  Saturday morning I awoke to find our heat wasn’t working and, despite our best efforts, we haven’t yet been able to resolve the problem.  With temperatures dropping into the single digits for portions of the weekend, you can probably imagine it was a bit stressful.  (Oh, and to add insult to injury, my beloved Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs on Sunday night.)  Luckily, family and friends came to our rescue with space heaters to keep our rooms warm, food to keep our bellies full, and cute babies to keep our minds off our troubles.  With any luck, the heating issue will be resolved today and we can put this weekend behind us.  It’s not very often that I look forward to Monday morning, but I’ve got high hopes for this one.     

Brownies

The weekend was so hectic that I didn’t get a chance to bake the treat I’d hoped to share with you this morning; that one will have to wait for later in the week.  Instead, I dug into my backlog of draft posts and pulled out these brownies, which are a very worthy back-up plan.  I made these for Christmas day, since I knew Shane wouldn’t be a fan of any of the other desserts we’d planned and we didn’t want him to be without a dessert option.  Like most brownies, these are quick and easy to whip up, incorporating pretty standard pantry ingredients.  The best thing about them though is that they deliver everything you could possibly want in a brownie: a thin, papery crust on top that gives way to a rich brownie below, one that is chewy, fudgy and intensely chocolaty.  Unlike a lot of recipes that include instant espresso powder, the espresso doesn’t just serve to enhance the chocolate flavor here.  You can definitely taste it in the brownies.  I liked the flavor it added, but if you prefer your brownies more simply, just leave the espresso out entirely or reduce the quantity you use.

If we’d had any left, these brownies would have been the perfect remedy to our less than ideal weekend.  Hopefully, instead, I can make another batch soon to celebrate the end of our furnace debacle :) 

Triple-Chocolate Espresso Brownies
from Baking Illustrated

5 oz semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (8.75 oz) sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (5 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower middle position.  Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides so you can lift the brownies out easily once they’re baked.  Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, the unsweetened chocolate, and the butter to a medium heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and, stirring occasionally, melt until everything is smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso until incorporated.  Set the bowl aside so the mixture can cool slightly. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds.  Add the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Finally, stir in the flour with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking ban, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula to cover the bottom of the pan.  Bake the brownies for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  (Do not over bake, or the brownies will dry out.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan.  Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and slice before serving.