My sister specifically requested a recipe for a Super Bowl dessert and at first my mind drew a blank. Thinking of main courses and appetizers are so easy (turkey burger, spicy sweet potato fries, turkey chili and corn bread, smokey chipotle salsa, guacamole, and chips are just a few), but desserts? Well, chocolate came to mind really quickly and the idea of brownies quickly followed.
Here’s my logic. Chocolate goes with nearly everything, especially winter when everything’s cold and dismal. Can you tell that I live in Boston and have had enough snow storms to last a lifetime? Also, brownies are so easy to transport if you’re going to a party and they’re easy to handle. Just grab one of a platter (or straight out of the pan), grab a napkin or plate to catch the crumbs (or let them fall freely), and you’re good to go. No forks or knives to deal with! No need to look away from the TV. Just dig right in!
Now, there are a lot of brownie recipes out there. There are a bunch of bad ones and some good ones, and then there are some phenomenal brownie recipes. Leave it to Cook’s Illustrated to have a really phenomenal brownie recipe. They tell you to let the brownies cool completely to get the ultimate, chewy texture. But how on earth are you supposed to pass up on a warm brownie? We let them cool for half an hour and then all bets were off.
When you eat them warm, you get these delightful gooey parts where the chocolate chunks have melted. When you eat them once they’ve cooled, you get a nice bite of hardened chocolate between the chewy brownie goodness. Either way, you have a delightful, rich, super chocolatey brownie with some nice texture variation.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
You know how store-bought brownie mixes have such an awesome texture that is rarely achieved from a home-baked brownie? Cook’s Illustrated discovered the secret behind that is the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. Brownie recipes with lots of butter (saturated fat) are very tender, but not at all chewy. The combo of butter and vegetable oil in this recipe gives it a higher unsaturated fat content resulting in chewier brownies. The end result is a decadent, chewy, chocolatey brownie that leaves all other brownie recipes in the dust.
The instant coffee or espresso powder is optional, but it will bring out the chocolate flavor, so I highly recommend it.
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso or instant coffee (optional)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , finely chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate , cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a foil sling in a 13×9 inch pan by fitting an 18-inch length of foil across the length of the pan, allowing the edges to hang over. Then place a 14-inch piece of foil perpendicular to the first, again allowing the edges to hang over. Make sure that the you carefully press in at the corners to make sure that the foil is lying smoothly. Spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk the cocoa, the instant coffee or espresso powder (if using), and the boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. next, add the eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth. Whisk the sugar in. Add the flour and salt and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate pieces. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer the pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours (or until you give in to the smell of freshly baked brownies). If you are using a glass pan, transfer the brownies out of the pan after 10 minutes or they will overcook from the heat retention. Using the foil overhang, lift the brownies carefully from the pan (an extra set of hands to help support the middle is helpful). Return the brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
*Cook’s Illustrated recommends Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Bar and I wholeheartedly agree