Monday, April 5, 2010
Steve is an assistant at my law firm who sits across the hall from me. Since I was friendly with the previous secretary there and had always left my baking on her ledge, I continued to put out my food when he took over. This delighted him, and he never failed to compliment whatever I brought (or express sadness if I didn't produce anything for the week ^_^).
Being one of those people just bursting with life, Steve was always greeting me cheerfully in the hall and ready to chat about politics, our desperate need for vacations, or whatever else. Thus, his sudden absence starting a few months ago was noticed, even while I was deep in the fog of war my trial (which, by the way, we won!!).
I assumed he'd left for a vacation I'd been too busy to remember. But it was only weeks later that a mutual friend let on that he'd been seriously ill. Fortunately, good news of his successful surgery and speedy recovery came in that same talk. Well, Steve started working again recently and, I'm happy to report, is as spirited as ever! In fact he's even back to bugging me to bake more 8). Of course, I was more than happy to bake something to celebrate his return to good health and the office.
Knowing his love for all things "brownie-like," I made this highly-recommended recipe with an interesting technique of baking at a high temperature for a brief time followed by an ice bath for a rapid cool-down. All this to produce crispy tops and bottoms surrounding fudgy, but NOT undercooked, innards (yes, I love that word). As expected, these were quite tasty. Just somebody please remind me that my metal pan is 9 and NOT 8 inches across (a 17 square inch difference), so my bars stop coming out so thin ;p.
New Classic Brownies [Printable Recipe]
From Alice Medrich via Scharffen Berger
Makes 16 2-inch square bars (8-inch square pan)
XIAOLU'S NOTES: I know the recipe says this below, but please do NOT use a glass pan or it will BREAK during the rapid cooling ice bath step. Shattered glass is no fun, trust me 8). If you have to use a 9-inch square pan, I'd recommend increasing the ingredients by half or at least including nuts or other add-ins so your brownies are thicker.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)
[I wasn't sure if Steve liked nuts so I omitted]
2 large eggs, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare an 8-inch square metal baking pan. It is important in this recipe to only use metal. Line the pan with either aluminum foil or parchment paper so that it comes up all four sides.
Melt the butter together with the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl placed above simmering (not boiling) water. Stir to smoothly integrated.
With a wooden spoon or heavy spatula, mix in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the flour. Stir the mixture for at least a minute until the batter is smooth and begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.
If you choose to add nuts, we think a light toasting makes a big flavor difference. Mix in the nuts as the last step before putting the batter in the pan.
Bake the brownies at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the batter begins to come away from the sides of the pan.
While the brownies are baking, prepare an ice bath for cooling. Using a roaster pan or a larger baking pan, fill it with cold water and ice cubes. When you remove the brownies from the oven, cool the pan completely in the ice bath. Be careful to not get water on the brownies. (If you had used a pyrex pan, the glass would break at this point and your brownies would be ruined.)
Cut the brownies into 16 squares.