Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are colorblind and haven’t noticed all the pink/red crap at every store, you probably know that Valentines’ Day is coming up. I hate to admit it but I secretly love this holiday. I know it’s a commercial holiday, one made for business purposes but I think the sentiments behind the holiday are worth noting. Plus, all the flowers and red/pink stuff makes me giddy. Chocolate & champagne happen to be two of my favorite things ever and I could live off those things, especially if a certain someone showered me with those lovely gifts. Note to my future boyfriend: champagne and dark chocolate will win you MAJOR points.
Besides chocolate and champagne, you know what else screams love and Valentines’ Day? BROWNIES. Yes, you heard me. Brownies. Not storebought ones. Nope, second rate brownies have no place here. I’m talking about gooey, rich, and decadent bittersweet brownies that should be shared only with those that you love. Don’t waste these babies on mere acquaintances or coworkers. Save the good stuff for those loved ones, man! Would you serve your crush some crappy sweets or share with him/her the best things you ever created? That’s what I thought.
I’ve read about Alice Medrich’s simple yet elegant book, Pure Dessert, and finally got my hands on it after a long wait from the library. Every photo and word is so sophisticated and rich, making it a must-have for all bakers and photo-lovers out there. Alice’s recipes uses basic ingredients in ways that enhance their natural properties and flavors. There is no fluff here; just tasty, fresh dessert. Alice’s new bittersweet brownie recipe was the first one that really caught my eye and I figured that they would make for great Valentines’ Day presents.
The batter comes together quickly, with butter and chocolate melting together before being added in to the flour mixture. I used Trader Joe’s Bittersweet chocolate because not only is a good deal ($3.99 for one pound) but the chocolate’s flavor is really deep and rich. If I had better quality chocolate, I would’ve used it here but I was happy with my Trader Joe’s chocolate. My pound of chocolate had chopped almonds inside and I kept them in the brownie recipe, since they give a nice bite to the overall fudgey brownies. But if you are a brownie purist, leave the nuts out of it.
This is not the recipe for craptastic chocolate; trust me, the recipe will fail if you turn to cheap chocolate. After 25 minutes in the oven, the smell of these brownies will meander through your home, leaving you weak in the knees. Now remember, these brownies are meant to be shared… But I won’t blame you for devouring half the pan. Hey, you gotta take care of yourself, right?!
In my life, I’ve made countless brownies, eaten tons of brownies, and should probably be a brownie connoisseur. Can I just say these are the best damn brownies EVER?! I am not lying. If you want to test me, go ahead and try these. Bittersweet chocolate is my favorite and this recipe uses 8 ounces of this lovely stuff. The texture reminds me of a moist cake-like brownie, but overly fluffy. Does that make sense? I don’t even know if I can accurately describe it. All I know is that these were my dream brownies, the one that I have been searching for. And they get better with time. I left them overnight all wrapped up and they turned in to the best breakfast brownies in history. They became more fudge-like, more dense, more chocolate. Just better, all around.
My one gripe (you knew it was coming) was the top of the brownie. I know many people love the crusty, cracked top, but it kind of bugs me. I mean, it’s hard to get a clean, swift cut when the top starts breaking off. On the other hand, the fallen pieces make for good snacks. So I guess it serves its purpose, and definitely didn’t stop me from devouring the plate of brownies. But word of caution: let the brownies cool! If you attempt to take them out too early, they will fall apart. I know, asking you to wait 30 minutes is like asking you to stop watching American Idol but trust me, it will be alright. I hope you all enjoy your Valentines Day and share some sweets with your loved ones.
New Bittersweet Brownies
Origin: Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
Yield: 16 2-inch squares
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 minutes
● 8 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
● 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
● 3 large eggs
● 1 cup sugar
● Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
● 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Line bottom and sides of 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
Place chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl and set in wide skillet of almost-simmering water. Stir frequently until mixture is melted and smooth and quite warm. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla with a hand-held mixer on high speed until the eggs are thick and light colored, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the warm chocolate. Fold in the flour.
Scrape the batter into the lined pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.
Invert the brownies on rack and peel off the foil. Turn right side up on cutting board and cut into sixteen 2-inch squares.