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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chocolate Brownies

Brownie Stack


Brownie 4

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.

Recipe :

145 g             Bitter sweet chocolate, preferably Valrohna Caribe. (I used Tainori)
260 g             Unsalted butter
4                    Large Eggs
250g              Sugar
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.


Irene's Footprints said...

top it with vanilla ice cream will be nice for this super hot weather.

: )

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Irene, yes, I thought of pairing it with one scoop of ice cream but of all the stuff I have in my ice cream..LOL

Zurin said...

You made me laugh have evrything in ur freezer except ice cream! that is unbelievable..but I suppose its better than having ice cream and nothing else!

the brownies look terrific and i understand you about chocolate. my daughter is like that too...she likes it but can only eat a morsel at a time..and the same with brownies youre not alone ^_^

La Table De Nana said...

I am like that desserts are not for me..I know..I know..but the Toblerone was not for me:)

This is the way most people like their brownies Shirley..Fudgey:) Yours look done to perfection..Really..I bet your guests will love them.

Did you add some pistachios? I like the green there:)

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Monique! Yes, I did add pistachios. I didn't have enough Macadamia nuts. Yes, when I was writing this, I thought of your Toblerone:) I remember my remark was 'richness overload'... I didn't mean it in a negative way but I am just not that into richness...:)

petite nyonya said...

No worries if you don't fancy brownies, just send a tray over to me after baking ;)

Irene's Footprints said...


You have milk and egg some ice cream lah : O

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...


food with style said...

let me be the first to push to the head of line screaming my love for chocolate! i think its my very favorite food group~ and brownies, like crack for me... i rarey make them because they are gone the same day~

thanks for your nice note about food for thought, i have found great books too, i hope you can join in soon, it really is fun playing with your books and food!

WendyinKK said...

Try my steamed brownies then :)
My Chocomaniac husband loves it.

Anyway, urs look fine to me. I always see on TV that they don't cream the butter much, it's like mixing everything together, that's it.

MsMoon said...

Shirley, these brownies look great! Like you, I have to have a glass of milk to go down with brownie, no matter how small the square is. The last time I had a brownie was on a flight. When the flight attendant asked what drink I wanted & I asked for milk, she was taken aback. Haha... probably I was the first passenger she came across asking for milk... ^^

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Brownies are sooo good aren't they! And French butter is sublime so I can really imagine how utterly good these would be!

pigpigscorner said...

For awhile I thought there were peas in those brownies! Looks really moist and fudgy. Brownies are good for parties, so simple but so yummy!

Anonymous said...

Lovely brownies. I want to grab a piece off the screen. Nice pictures :)

Happy Homebaker said...

These look so awesome, I like the moist texture and loves the nuts, my kids would always forbid me to add nuts in brownies, I hope they will 'outgrow' this soon :)

Trissa said...

Hi Shirley - Dorie can definitely make something blah into something fantastic. I love the addition of the nuts - are they pistachios? Recipe says walnuts or pecans?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Tris, yes I added pistachios because it's what I have in my fridge..:P.. Sicilian Pistachios -very green in colour.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Shirley, your fridge sounds like my dream come true! ;) The brownies look amazing.

M. said...

they look really good to me, pistachios and macadamia nuts sound interesting, to bad you were not to happy with them...I like simplicity of this recipe...


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