Due Date Brownies

Yesterday was my official due date.  I didn’t have a baby, but I did have some pretty fantastic brownies.

I needed an excuse, a “special occasion” to make these because a 9×9 pan has 3 sticks of butter in it.  Sometimes I like doing math, but I don’t even want to think about how that equates to calories/fat per serving.  That’s why these are the perfect accompaniment to soup — make a healthy soup for dinner and balance it out by a ridiculously decadent brownie for dessert!

These are from Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home.  I was googling reviews of a healthier Thomas Keller recipe (a Lentil/Sweet Potato Soup, if you must know; I’ll definitely be making it some day) and kept coming across rave reviews of these brownies.  None of which failed to mention the 3 sticks of butter.  Regardless, I determined to make these brownies as soon as I had a passable excuse.

They ARE good.  I actually liked them a little bit better this morning (ahem, yes, I had one this morning) after they’d cooled and firmed up a bit.  It just seemed like the flavors were more mature and had blended together better.  Keller suggests serving them with a (homemade) caramel ice cream or vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, or with whipped cream; I thought they were so rich that I couldn’t imagine pairing them with anything but a little dusting of powdered sugar.  But you be the judge; once you’re going this over-the-top, you may as well go as far as you want.

Thomas Keller’s Brownies (from Ad Hoc at Home)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces [I used salted butter because that’s what I had, and I think the additional salt adds a nice balance to the chocolate and sugar]

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract

6 ounces 61 to 64% chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. We use a 9-inch square silicone mold, because it keeps the edges from overcooking; if you use a metal or glass baking pan, butter and flour it. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a piece of chocolate chip; then bake for a few minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature.

Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles (I cut it into about 16 squares). Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days).

[PS – I was going to try to post a picture of these, but after they were finally cool enough to eat at 9:15 last night, I didn’t have good light or the patience to take a good picture.  Use your imagination!]