Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Best "Box" Brownies

I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, but something about my diet in South Asia makes me want to eat chocolate. I've searched for years for a good from scratch brownie closely resembling boxed brownies at home, but I have not really found anything. If you pay close attention to boxed brownies, they usually have some adaptations for "cake like" and "chewy" brownies. I am one who prefers chewy brownies, that perfect cross between cake and cookie. All of the from scratch recipes I've ever tried result in the more cake like texture, which is okay if it's all you get, but not quite up to snuff in my opinion. I found one that I liked a few years ago, kept adding chocolate chips and peanut butter to make it better, and felt reasonably satisfied with it--even prideful maybe. Then, I ate a brownie at my friend's house that made me feel sad for my brownies. This is the closest thing I've ever made to an out of the box chewy brownie. It's delicious warm or room temp with or without ice cream. The measurements are partly in metric, but I haven't bothered to convert them during cooking since I have a kitchen scale. You can buy the chocolate in big baking bars here or as chocolate chips. I find that the local candy bars don't melt as well.

Also, before giving the recipe, I recently learned from Chuck's Day Off that this is the basic recipe for molten chocolate cakes, too. If you just reduce your cook time and put the batter into smaller baking rounds, you'll get a firm outside and semi-liquid center. Nice to know!

Best "Box" Brownies
150g butter (about 1 Tbsp more than 1/2 cup)
125g chocolate (roughly 1/2 cup)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

In a bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. You can use a double boiler or heat in microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until melted. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add in vanilla. Slowly add the melted chocolate to the eggs and sugar, careful to temper so you don't scramble the eggs. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and stir just to combine. A few lumps are okay. If you over-mix, the brownies will be hard.

Pour into a buttered baking dish (9x9 or 11x7). Line with baking paper to make clean up easier. Bake at 180C for 40 minutes or until the middle looks risen and a toothpick comes out relatively clean. If it's slightly soft in the middle, it will make for a more chewy cooled brownie.

Note: No, I did not leave the baking soda or powder off the recipe. Somehow it magically rises without any leavening.

If you're in a hurry or feeling lazy, I did find that you can kind of throw everything into the bowl with the melted chocolate and get similar results. The final texture is slightly different, but not enough to notice unless you eat both kinds of brownies back to back. 

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