Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Search for the Ultimate Brownie - Ad Hoc at Home Brownies

I love brownies.

They are by far one of my most favorite baked goods.  They surpass even pie in terms of my most crave-able sweet.

Brownies are this perfectly simple, homey treat that are oh so satisfying.  They are reminiscent of bake sales and warm kitchens.  There is just something magical about them.

Brownies were actually one of the very first thing I baked from scratch.  Back when I was younger, maybe in junior high or high school, I had a hankering for brownies and my parents didn't have a mix in the pantry.  So I pulled out my family's go to cookbook, Fanny Farmer, and turned to the brownie recipe.  We luckily had all the ingredients I needed, even unsweetened chocolate. So I went about baking them.  As I remember it, they were the most perfect brownies, so much better than any box mix I'd ever had.

In the past few years as I've expanded on my baking skills, I haven't baked brownies all that much. It's been all about cakes and pies and cookies.  Over the last year I've slowly rediscovered my love of brownies and have decided to make 2012 the year of my quest for the perfect brownie.

So over the coming year I'll be testing all kinds of recipes, including by dearly remembered Fanny Farmer recipe, in my quest for perfection.  I'll even tweak and try to come up with my own version if I need to.

When I was back in Boston over the holidays, I cooked out of my Dad's copy of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, specifically I made the brownies.  For my first brownie recipe out of the gate, this one was pretty amazing and as of right now is the one to top.

print recipe

Ad Hoc at Home Brownies
A rich and fudgy brownie, perfect to cure any chocolate craving.
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb or 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 6 oz 61-64% chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9″ square pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.2. In a large bowl, place half the amount of cubed butter. In a saucepan, melt the remaining half of the butter over medium heat, stirring. Pour the melted butter over the cubed butter, and stir to combine. The butter should look creamy, with bits of unmelted butter still present.3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for three minutes, until light and doubled in volume. Add the vanilla. On low speed, alternate adding the flour and the butter in several additions. Stir in the chopped chocolate.4. Pour the batter into pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 brownies

To help me in my search for the ultimate brownie, please post or email your go to recipes and I'll give them a try.  At some point I hope to have it narrowed down to my top 2 or 3 and I will look to you folks to help me crown the winner!

Here's to a chocolatey 2012!

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