How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My chocolate soul can reach.
I love thee chewy, in all thy toothsome glory.
I love thee fudgy, intense, complex and surprising.
I love thee purely and neatly, as individual bites.
I love thee newly, nuanced with brown butter.
I love thee with the breath,
Smiles and tears of all my dessert life!
While sitting at the dentist's office, I was inspired to riff on Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem. (Yes, the irony of dreaming about sweets while simultaneously fearing the number of cavities in my mouth.) The inspiration? Bon Appetit's cover photo of a gorgeous stack of brownies. Upon reading the recipe, I realized I'd already baked and blogged on a close approximation. They are Alice Medrich's brownie; this iteration comes with the added step of browning the butter. I couldn't resist and had to bake a pan.
These are wonderfully gooey, chewy, moist, chocolatey... everything one hopes for in a superb brownie.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
from bon appétit, February 2011
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1¼ cups sugar
¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, chilled
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325ºF. Line 8-inch square metal pan with foil, as shown here. Butter the foil.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot.) Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using the foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into squares and serve. (Alternatively, wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Cut when ready to serve.)