One night last week as Matt and I were talking about the day and winding down for bed, I pulled a magazine from my nightstand and heard him ask, “You seriously check out food magazines from the library?”
I’m a sucker for magazines, especially because of the short attention span that is necessary to enjoy an article before losing focus and moving on to something else…which is, in all honesty, how my brain usually works. My attention span hasn’t always been like this so I’m not proud of it, but I’ve learned to make the most of it.
Making the most of it included making my version of these, the “best brownies” ever, which was the featured cover recipe in the February 2011 issue of Bon Appètit. “Best brownies” is in quotes because I read a lot of comments about this recipe in which the commenters wrote those very words. After I baked them up for dessert on Sunday, I asked Matt and Elle if these brownies were, in fact, the “best brownies” they’ve ever tasted.
The answer? YES.
Go. Make these. NOW.
Browned Butter Brownies:
nonstick vegetable spray
10 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 ¼ cups of sugar
¾ cup of natural unsweetened cocoa*
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
*(the recipe commenters called for some fancypants cocoa I’ve never heard of, but I used Hershey’s)
Place the baking rack on the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line a 8x8x2 glass baking dish or metal baking pan with aluminum foil, enough to hang over the edges, and spray with nonstick spray. NOTE: If using a glass dish, bake for 30-31 minutes. If using a metal dish, bake for 25 minutes.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and continue cooking until it stops foaming and starts producing browned crystal-like bits on the bottom of the pan. Take off heat and immediately stir in the sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla, and salt. Blend well and let sit for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes the mixture will still be hot, but add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. When mixture is thickened and glossy, gradually stir in the flour and beat vigorously. You can add nuts if you’d like at this point (most commenters preferred walnuts or pecans, some even added salted caramel). Pour into your baking pan and bake for the time noted above (based on the type of pan you’re using).
Check to see the brownies are baked through by inserting a toothpick in the center (some crumbs will probably come off with the toothpick). Cool the pan on a rack. Pull the brownies from the pan by the foil overhang, cut and eat!
The recipe says these brownies can be stored at room temperature for up to two days, but I doubt your brownies will make it past the first day. These are rich but not so much that they induce a bellyache and the center stays moist and chewy, not cake-like (I hate cake-like brownies).
Why are these called the “best brownies” ever? The browned butter makes all the flavor difference in the world. I’ve even decided that the recipe itself, without the eggs, could very well produce a frosting for cakes and cupcakes. In fact, I may come across a decadent frosting recipe in one of those magazines.
Regarding my selection of bed-reading material: I do not find my choices to be odd. Matt can snicker at me all he wants, but I know for a fact he gets a kick out of me succeeding at any recipe, even if it comes from the magazine racks at the library. Besides, at least I’m not reading Cosmopolitan and quizzing him about how he likes his…oh, whatever. The brownies were just as sensual, I can assure you.