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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Barb's Brownies Save the Day!

As I mentioned in last night's post, I had a little problem with the lemon bars I was planning to serve for dessert, and while I had all the fixin's for another batch, I had both used my 13 by 9 pan and had a mixer which was starting to complain.

"Brownies," I thought. "Everybody likes brownies." And my copy of the rec.food.cooking cookbook was handy, so I didn't even have to google up the recipe for some of the BEST BROWNIES IN THE WORLD.

Everybody loved them. They were fudgy genius.

These won blue ribbon (first prize) at the Minnesota State Fair in 1997. As Barb says, "I use real chocolate, unsalted butter, and cake flour. Don't complain to me if you don't."

I will note that for large-group consumption I usually leave the almond extract and nuts (which I love) out, as there are a lot of people who have nut sensitivities.

Barb Schaller's Famous Orgasmic Chocolate Brownies

Adapted from recipe in Cook's Illustrated

Makes 1 13 by 9, or two 8 by 8 pans of brownies. Recipe can be halved successfully. Prep time: 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 cup (8 oz/2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli is a good brand)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (I used all vanilla)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 1/3 cup (6 oz) cake flour
1 tea baking powder (and you can be sure that I got the right can out this time)
1/2 tea salt

Melt butter and chocolate together in 2 quart (medium large) microwave-safe bowl, or double boiler. (about 2 minutes with my microwave) Stir until smooth.

Mix in sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time with flat wire whisk. Mix in extract(s). Stir in nuts, if using.

Combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl and fold into chocolate mixture.

Spread batter in 9 by 13" pan lined with baking parchment (or 2 8" square pans). Bake for about 33-35 minutes. Do not overbake; tester may have fudgy crumbs on it, but not wet batter. Cool and cut.

I've never noticed this before, but this is a doubled version of Katherine Hepburn's family brownie recipe, which I got out of one of Laurie Colwin's books (Home Cooking or HC II).

Martha Stewart also publishes the exact same recipe as hers, and I believe Mark Bittman did too.

It works so why change it?

I'm grateful to have the doubled version, because one 8x8 pan is never enough brownies...
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