Despite their popularity in the United States and my own personal predilection for them, this is only the second brownie recipe to be featured on this blog. The first was for Valentine’s Day almost two years ago. While these are not a traditional Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid or Kwanzaa recipe, Americans adore saccharine chocolate treats at any time of the year.
Brownies are dense chocolate, cake-like squares. They generally contain a higher proportion of eggs and chocolate and a lower proportion of flour than chocolate cake. They are sometimes frosted, and often made with nuts, chocolate chips, cream cheese, dried fruit or coconut. Most commonly brownies are served at room temperature, but many restaurants serve them warm and topped with ice cream, whipping cream, chocolate sauce and/or chopped nuts. Brownies are similar to the less popular blondies (another favorite); the major difference is that the former is made with chocolate batter.
Brownies were first created in Chicago by a chef at the Palmer House Hotel during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. He created these confections for Bertha Palmer, whose husband Potter owned the hotel. The original recipe, which is still served at the hotel, contains nuts and an apricot glaze. The first published brownie recipe produced a cake-like square and appeared in a Boston cookbook in 1906. A new recipe published the following year more closely resembled today’s confection.
This is one of the most delicious brownies I have tasted. It is based on a recipe by Ina Garten but uses less chocolate, nuts, flour and sugar than her version. Still these are exceedingly decadent.
Makes 48 squares
1 lb unsalted butter (4 sticks)
24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups walnut pieces
1. Butter and flour a 3/4 to 1-inch deep 12 x 18 inch baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium pan over lowest heat, melt butter and 12 ounces chocolate chips. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs (with a fork, do not use an electric beater), then add sugar, coffee and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture and mix well using a spatula. Allow to cool to room temperature.
4. In a small bowl mix all but 2 tablespoons of flour, baking powder and salt. Using the spatula, fold into the chocolate mixture.
5. Toss walnuts and remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in reserved 2 tablespoons of flour. Fold these into the brownie batter.
6. Pour batter into the baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, remove baking sheet and drop on countertop or floor several times to remove air bubbles. Be careful not to overbake these brownies – they should be moist and chewy not cakey.
7. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into squares.