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Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am probably going to get alot of flak for this but I have to say this anyway. I have never liked brownies. Facing trays of chocolatey brownies on many occassions, I have never had the impulse to help myself to them. I am trying to rationalise my reaction, struggling to find the right words to express my lack of zest or excitement for them. Brownies, to me are coarse, rich but bland - that's the best I can do until I came upon Dorie Greenspan's opening to Pierre Hermes Moist and Nutty Brownies Recipe, I found the exact words that depict my feelings toward this American all-time favourite pastry : insipd, indifferent. It lacks the sublime quality I fall for in French or Japanese pastries. I am not good at handling an overload of the richly rich... my appetite would go on strike and shut down completely. For example, I do have a weakness for chocolates but I would take them in small doses. 2 little truffles made from the best quality chocolate will keep me sailing in bliss for days (well, maybe 1 day) hence my box of Valrohna chocolate squares can last me for weeks.
So why have I chosen to bake brownies then? ... because I have a dinner gathering coming up and my friends seem to like brownies.... and because Dorie Greespan had written that this recipe is a prime example of Brownies of the sublime variety. Made with good quality bitter sweet chocolate, an abundance of butter and generously studded with nuts - they are baked to just set at the surface;" the center of the brownie remains moist - very moist." I got mesmerised by her description and decided to give it a try.
It was easy enough for I have loads of good quality chocolate in my fridge, blocks of French butter in my freezer and some macadamia nuts from a previous bake. These turned out to be short so I had to top up with some pistachio nuts in my chiller.
I did a small trial batch which yielded about 9 squares. I am not quite happy wth the way they look. I have a feeling I might have overaerated when I creamed the butter for it did not turn out as compact as the photo in the cook book. And even though I had baked as instructed at 180C x 20mins, the center still seems a little gooey - unsure if this is actually the Very Moist sublime quality as depicted by Dorie Greenspan.
Verdict? ... certainly moist and delightful. Sumblime? Not really... at least I have not achieved it yet.
145 g Bitter sweet chocolate, preferably Valrohna Caribe. (I used Tainori)
260 g Unsalted butter
4 Large Eggs
140g All purpose flour
145g Pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted and very coarsely chopped.
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Prepare a 24x 30cm baking tray. Line bottom with a piece of parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour.
2. Melt chocolate in microwave. Cool down to 45C before use.
3. In a bowl, cream butter with rubber spatula. Consistency of butter should be smooth and creamy but not airy. Stir in chocolate, egg (lightly beaten), sugar followed by flour and nuts.
4. Pour batter into baking tray and smoothen surface with spatula.
5. Bake for 19- 22mins; at this point the top of the cake will be dry but a knife inserted in the center will come out wet. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow brownies to cool.