Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brownie Square

I confess, it all started a year ago. It was my first recipe from Dorie's weighty tome Baking: From My Home To Yours. It's also this weeks Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) assignment. I do love brownies. A year ago, The NY Times' Julia Moskin, wrote about brownies. It was a throw down, bake-off or whatever you want to call it. For me, it's about the fudge. I baked all day. The above photo is the Dorie recipe, plated with Haagen-Dazs rum raisin ice cream, butterscotch sauce that was in my fridge and a couple of Raisinets for good measure.

The set-up
Three brownie recipes, by three different chocolate gurus. Nick Malgieri, Dori Greenspan and Alice Medrich. It's the usual butter- sugar-egg combo and chocolate, only better. It's technique. Bake and vote....no super delegates, just the popular vote. Kids, moms, dads, teachers. I know the winner. Make them all and you tell me. Results next week. In the meantime I think I’ll make a brownie cheesecake.

The three recipes:
Adapted from ''Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers''

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.
Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.

Adapted from ''Baking: From My Home to Yours''
makes 16 brownies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Adapted from ''Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies''

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.
2. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add nuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: Pour ice water into a large roasting pan or kitchen sink to a depth of about 1 inch. Remove pan from oven and place in water bath, being careful not to splash water on brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out and cut into 1-inch squares or wrap in foil.
Yield: 16 brownies.

The taste.
Have a glass of ice-cold milk (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream)


April said...

This is a very tempting proposition!! I love your take on Dorie's, not sure about the ice cream for my taste, but it looks delicious!

C.L. said...

MOUTHWATERING! That is all I can say! Very nice :)

Engineer Baker said...

Quite the challenge! And Haagen Dasz has rum raisin ice cream? Seriously?!?

Jules Someone said...

Very ambitious! I can't wait to see the results.

Heather said...

wow! 3 brownies! You're killing me here!

LyB said...

Never enough of those brownie recipes! That picture with the butterscotch is mouth watering. :)

ostwestwind said...

I am impressed, the brownie/cake squares topped with ice cream and butterscotch sauce... The picture looks great

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

PheMom said...

Beautiful job!! Rum raisin ice cream always makes me think of City Slickers though! LOL

Linda said...

A brownie bake-off...love it!!! I won't have the time to do this, but very curious to hear the results!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

i like the rasinete garnish! i remember when that article came out too...i saved all 3 recipes at the time, but didn't make any of them until now!

Christine said...

Wow great job!

Susie Homemaker said...

oh god - a brownie competition! i can't wait to hear the general concensus so that i can try making the winning recipe! dorie's were good - but I love having a great brownie recipe to try out! I'm staying tuned!

CB said...

I am all about that butterscotch sauce! Yummy!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Sharon said...

Love the toppings. I was going to top my brownie with my home-made caramel, but it was too old and had crystalized.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I'm going to drool from afar, as my thighs most definitely don't need another two pans of brownies hanging around the house!

Shari said...

You're going to make us wait a week to find out which one is best?? Can't wait for the results. Brownie cheesecake sounds amazing. And your plated brownie looks decadent!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Cecilia said...

Man, I wish I was in your family and taste all the different brownies. I can't wait for the results! Can you give us a tiny clue?

The brownie looks scrumptious with Haagen-Dazs.

Jaime said...

yum! i wish i had the time to try all these, can't wait to see which you like the best :) the picture w/the rum raisin ice cream (one of my favorite flavors!) and the butterscotch sauce is to die for!

Jacque said...

Ooooh, I can't wait to see the results. I'm always in search of a better brownie recipe.

...and you've been tagged for a meme. You can go to my blog and see my "I've been tagged" post to see how to proceed if you aren't already familiar with the whole "meme" thing. Take care!

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