Thursday, May 31, 2012

Absolute Best Brownies

I’d like to apologize, firstly, for my longer than usual absence here.  We have been eking out as much as we can from this summer (the hottest on record so far I’ve heard!).  That means spending our precious weekends and holidays in search of a cool body of water in which to immerse ourselves.  Now that little C has grown to be quite the beach bum that also includes finding a sandy shore where she can busy herself with her pails and shovels.  Cocktails, ice cold beers, seafood, a hot grill, and (of course) great company were also on the agenda.

And, secondly, I’d like to apologize for the amount of time I’ve been sitting on this absolutely fantastic brownie recipe.  I actually made them for one of the aforementioned beach trips.  My uncle had rented a house in a nearby beach for the summer (nearby meaning you don’t have to take a plane or a boat) and we went for a weekend.  Although my aunt insisted that they would take care of everything, I, of course, could not come empty handed.  So along with flip flops and sarongs and all manners of beach toys, I packed some of my favorite beef tapa and organic eggs (breakfast food…very important!), a bottle of Bombay, cans of Schweppes, and six lemons (preferred cocktail…also very important!), and these brownies.

Take them wherever you want a repeat invitation!

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies 
(from David Lebovitz’s recipe as seen on Thyme for Cooking)
  • 3 ounces unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (I used walnuts) 
- Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of parchment, allowing for excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan (this is how you will pull the brownies out later).  You can also use foil but I prefer parchment.  Lightly butter the parchment. (It’s mentioned that the original recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan, but I used an 8-inch and it turned out perfect)
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, one at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for one full minute.  Yes, this is important so time yourself.  The batter is supposed to lose its graininess in this time, becoming smooth and glossy, and pull away a bit from the sides of the saucepan.  After that, stir in the chopped nuts.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a pre-heated 350F oven until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
- Let the brownie cool completely in the pan (be patient!) before lifting the parchment and the brownie out of the pan. I give it an extra window of time to cool out of the pan as well (it’s the tropics after all!).  Cut the brownie into squares.

I stumbled on this recipe over at Katie’s and our beach trip was the perfect excuse to try them out.  There are two important things to remember when making them, as per the expert advice of Mr. Lebovitz -- one is to make sure that you do stir them quite vigorously and two that you stir (vigorously!) for the prescribed one minute, no less.  This is what makes that batter temptingly glossy and the resulting brownies fudgy as sin.  I’d also like to add, as with any brownie, whose majority is made up of chocolate, please use the best chocolate you can get your hands on.  The brownies will keep for 4 days (or one month frozen) although I highly doubt they will be around for that long.

So here we are at summer’s end.  The rainy season is slowly making its presence felt, although the heat is still asserting itself bullishly.  I am so very happy though, that despite almost melting a fair number of times, I can look back on a summer of sunshine and fun…and the memories of my little girl looking up at me with sand in her hair and hands, telling me that she is “so happy” to be in the beach.  And even if our tans may fade, and grey skies replace the blue ones, I’ll have a wonderful brownie recipe to see me through the rain.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

They look and sound amazing!



Redd H from Salted Spoon said...

This looks wonderful! I love how short the ingredient list is! I make a decent chocolate brownie (, but this one looks much more decadent. I'll be sure to give this recipe a whirl!

catsmovingkitchen said...

Hi Jo,

Is it all right to assume that your little C started to like chocolates/sweets already?

I just remembered cos there's this new 1 1/2 y.o. boy who drops by our house (my cousin's inaanak) sometimes who doesn't like candies/ sweets at all, he goes, "ayaw. ayaw." But offer him rice and such and he'd go (super excited tome) "wow! mommy kain! "


Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings said...

Hottest summer on record? Well, it must have been really sizzling! Anyway, who's Robert on the brownie recipe title? (LOL). I trust David Lebovitz. So if he said to stir vigorously for the prescribed amount of time, I will do exactly that! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Don't let it sit in your vault next time! Heehee, just kidding!

Paz said...

They look delicious! I love the photo of the little one running towards the water. :) Keep trying to stay cool in the hot weather.

Katrina said...

I think this may be the same recipe my sister has uses. I recall that she once tried three supposedly "best" brownie recipes, and we all agreed that this one "took the cake." It's now her go-to brownie recipe.

I think the sizzling summer is now truly over, and we're in for a very wet rainy season. I'm not a sun lover, but I will take the heat over typhoons anytime! Goodbye, beautiful blue skies and hello, dreary, flood-prone, traffic-plagued days and nights. Then again, just to channel your always cheery outlook, I will also say: welcome, waking up to cool mornings (or, in my case, afternoons) and snuggling between the sheets. :-)

Midge said...

Ooh! Brownies and gin-and-tonics sound like the perfect combination for kissing summer goodbye.

Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes said...

Your little girl looks adorable in her beachwear! I trust David L. with every recipe so these are a must-try!

Mikel Jones said...

They're so gorgeous! I mean both little C and the brownies. You can actually make them with no fancy ingredients?

The Mommist said...

Looks great! I can't wait to give this one a try. Great post!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Rosa!

Hi Redd H! Thanks for sharing your brownie recipe :) I love how simple this is too!

Hi Cath! She did not want anything to do with these brownies sadly...but she has finely tried some good plain chocolate and asked for more (so we can assume she liked it!) :) But 'ulam' with rice or pasta still get her more excited :)

Hi Jen! That's what a friend of mine told me! Robert here is the late Robert Steinberg, who co-founded Scharffen Berger chocolate. Enjoy the brownies!

Hi Paz! Thanks! She loves the beach :)

Hi Katrina! If your sister uses it then I know I am in good company :) Although I will miss the summer I am looking forward to making nilaga and tinola, stews and braises, and all the "rainy day" food I love to cook!

Hi Midge! It was! But the best part is they are just as good keeping you company in the rainy season as well ;)

Hi Paula! I need to go out and buy his latest book! Thank you...since we live in the tropics beachwear is a big part of our lives! ;)

Thanks Mikel! Yes, this is all it takes for luscious brownies!

Hi Mommist! We loved them...hope you enjoy them too! :)

Junglefrog said...

O you're so right to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts! In hoping we will get some sunshine too but it's not looking promising really. Love your brownies!

Shalum said...

Woohoo! Sounds like you had a fab summer.Lovely food on the beach. Thanks for the brownie recipe, I think this one I will try. Been getting bombed with chocolate recipes.

Jeremy Zeitoun said...

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ChichaJo said...

Hi Simone! These brownies are really good! Hope you get some sunshine soon!

Hi Shalum! Give this a try…it is simple but yields such great results :) Hope you enjoy it!

Hi Jeremy! Will check it out :)

Marcus said...

Wow, will definitely try making these tonight. Can almost taste them now :) Thanks!

Chocolate Shavings said...

These brownies look absolutely perfect!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Marcus! Hope you like them!

Hi Chocolate Shavings! They are delicious :) I am so glad to have chanced on the recipe!

Jeff @ Cheeseburger said...

This brownie recipe is amazing.It is very delicious!

Nina Munchen said...

Wow, I can't help drooling. I just love brownies
Well done!
If you submitted your absolute best brownies photos to , I'll bet they will make you on the home page.
Gosh, you have made me sooo hungry !

Anonymous said...

id love to try this one!