Sometimes I bake just to make the apartment smell delicious. I've heard there are scented sprays for this purpose and many real estate agents use them as a ploy. But to me, nothing beats the smell of freshly-baked chocolate-anything. Last night, I decided to make brownies for this reason (and because I didn't have time to let cold butter reach room temperature).
The original recipe came with my Williams Sonoma GoldTouch 9-inch square pan. I modified it just slightly with the addition of espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor, and reduction of sugar because I'm so healthy. Yeah, right.
- 185 grams unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 185 grams dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 125 grams all-purpose flour
- 30 grams cocoa powder*
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 275 grams granulated or Baker's sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
*I used Hershey's Special Dark blend of natural and Dutched cocoa powder. The original recipe called for baking powder, but no baking soda. Although it did not specify what type of cocoa powder to use, it's safe to assume it meant Dutch-processed cocoa powder (see entries in Food Science for the logic behind this). Since my cocoa powder was a blend of natural and Dutched, I thought it was wise to add some baking soda to react with the acids in the natural cocoa powder.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Microwave butter and chocolate in a bowl for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until fully melted and uniform.
In a bowl, whisk dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients (sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean paste). Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until incorporated. Add half the flour mixture and mix carefully with a spatula by scraping the bowl in a circular motion and piling the chocolate mixture over the flour mixture. Once incorporated, add the rest of the flour mixture and repeat. Stop mixing when there are just a few specs of dry flour pockets - these will go away when you scoop the batter into the pan.
Which brings us to the next step! Scoop the batter into a 9-inch square pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
Let the brownies cool completely before cutting into them. Since this is a very soft brownie, there will be crumbs. Don't you dare toss the crumbs. Instead, gather them into a cup, pour cold milk, and drink!
These brownies turned out super soft because I was so gentle when mixing the flour into the wet ingredients. I didn't activate much of the gluten in the flour. We knead dough to tangle up the protein strands and provide a rigid structure to bread. This structure holds up well to pockets of CO2 being created by leaveners, such as yeast. Since the goal (this time) was to make soft brownies, I wanted to leave the gluten alone by not over-stirring.
Next time I'm in the mood for chewy brownies, I will use bread flour and I will let myself go stir-crazy.