Have you been basketballing this weekend? Fun fact…this weekend, the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, is the most common time of year for males to get a vasectomy. Get snipped and recover with an ice pack placed just perfectly so, basketball on the tube, and a beer in the hand. I find this to be good thinking ahead … a two birds one stone kind of situation.
I love me some March Madness. Mostly for the upsets and underdog victories. Even if it blows my bracket to pieces. And let’s be real here… my bracket is a smoldering mass of failure. But…that’s how it goes and if it is blown to pieces because of an upset that has a coach falling on the floor and kids hitting game winning 3’s and fade-aways at the buzzer…I am OK with that.
I made some brownies to quell the pain of a few losses –this is the place where it is totally rational and cool to eat our feelings – you know, the picks I made with my heart and not with logic and stats. The upsets I had hoped/planned on and not the actual upsets that took place. While I love a good Cinderella story, I am terrible at predicting them. Go figure.
These brownies are thick and fudgy with chewy edges and a crackly top crust. Gosh, the crackly top crust that sticks to your lips like that of a golden thin crispy top layer of a fresh baked croissant. They are everything one asks for in a brownie and more. They are my go-to and have been for some time – they are what I compare all other brownie recipes to. So, imagine my surprise when just a few weeks ago, Joy made them as well, but with the use of brown sugar and the addition of baking soda. As you can tell, I really liked the final results and think I will keep the changes, but they aren’t necessary as they are fantastic without.
P.S. – Do not feel obligated to top these brownies with roasted walnuts and Maldon salt. I have often gone the route of a frozen 3 Musketeer Bar crushed and broken to bits and pieces and scattered about. Or slivered almonds and chocolate chips. Or simply plain jane, leaving ample room for a scoop of coffee ice cream and a dollop of hot fudge later in the evening. Top them or don’t. It is your adventure.
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (used 60% Ghirardelli)
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1+1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- a few pinches of flaky sea salt (used Maldon)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Cut 2 long pieces of parchment paper to fit into an 8 x 8 baking dish so a bit hangs over the edges on each side. Lightly spray with non-cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate and butter in heat proof bowl placed over a pan of almost simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the simmering water. Stir occasional. Or melt in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds on 50% power, stirring between each heating cycle.
- Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Whisk in slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Whisking continuously. ( tip: roll a dish towel and then form it into a ring, set bowl inside of ring and bowl will not move when whisking and pouring)
- Add flour and salt and with a wooden spoon, stir until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with roasted walnuts and flaky sea salt.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until slightly puffed and toothpick when inserted comes out with a few crumbs. The top will no longer be shiny.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into 9 fanatically large brownie squares.
adapted from Baking Illustrated with a bit of help from Joy the Baker.