birthday boy and palm beach brownies

Today is The Son's 9th Birthday.  He is a low-key kind of guy, preferring small gatherings to large, particularly after last year's sleepover with six boys.  Six does not sound like that much, but the crazies managed to make it feel like a good dozen kids in the house.  Never again. This year, we're inviting three.

I wanted to make something for his class at school.  The Son loves Red Velvet Cupcakes, or perhaps I should clarify and say that he loves the cream cheese frosting atop the RVC.  I could make him a tub of frosting to share with twenty spoons, but Frosting Birthday Treat might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Though I love the brownies from Alice Medrich, I've had a hankering for Maida Heatter's Palm Beach Brownies.  I first came across the recipe in Sarah Leah Chase's Nantucket Open-House Cookbook in 1987. (Ms Chase credits Ms. Heatter for the recipe.) The Sister RAVED about these amazing brownies, using espresso powder, and since then, this has been my go-to recipe.

I love how the egg yolks circled around.

These are the biggest, thickest, gooiest, chewiest,
darkest, sweetest, mostest-of-the-most...
with an almost wet middle and a crisp-crunchy top.
-Maida Heatter

Palm Beach Brownies
adapted from Cookies by Maida Heatter and Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered instant espresso
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
8 ounces walnut halves or large pecans, optional

Preheat convection oven to 350º F.

Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil.  Butter the foil.

Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a large double broiler over hot water on moderate heat, or in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat.  Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla and almond extracts, salt, espresso, sugar and flour at high speed for 10 minutes.  On low speed, add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Stir in the nuts and pour into the prepared pan.  Smooth the top.

Bake for 25 minutes- the brownie will have a thick, crisp crust on top, but if you insert a toothpick into the middle, it will come out wet and covered with chocolate.  Do not overbake.

Remove pan from the oven and let stand until cool.  Refrigerate the brownie for a few hours or overnight, or place it in the freezer for an hour or two.

Cut the brownie using a long, heavy knife with a sharp blade.

P.S.  I'm making the Medrich brownies today and conducting a taste-off.  I'm curious to which one The Kids like better.


  1. Honestly, I have always had better luck with boxed brownies than homemade, but these I am going to try!

  2. you might want to try the medrich recipe if you like boxed brownies. these have the same texture, just better flavor. i'm making them in a few minutes.


  3. Rebecca and her friend, Maren, came over this afternoon to have a taste-off with the 2 brownie recipes on your blog. You are right on that the medrich recipe is similar to boxed brownies. the girls feel that the heatter brownies were good, rebecca did not like the "coffee experience" (since we did not have espresso powder, i wonder if the instant coffee was more pungent). there's nothing like homemade brownies from scratch--the added care and time given certainly enriches the flavor! thanks for the brownie post--now to get the girls to clean up their mess!!

  4. @FPA- what was the verdict? which one did you like better?

  5. kristina KaminskasMay 8, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    I'm going to make these this afternoon.

  6. @kk- tell me how they turn out!


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