Post 2: Brownies

For my second post I wanted to make something that was ever bit as good as the first post. I also wanted to make something for father’s day, and brownies are a family favorite. Up until this point, I had only made brownies from a box. I do not know why. I never use a box for any other kind of baked goods, but I have always had a strange mental block when it comes to brownies. Generally, I tend to like cake-like boxed brownies because fudge brownies from the box are just too chewy! However, after making them from scratch, I have been converted to the fudge brownie way of thinking.

These brownies are another recipe from my Great-Grandmother Mae and are amazing. The texture is unlike anything I have ever eaten. From top to bottom there are three delicious layers to this eating experience. The top of is a hard, crunchy, meringue-like layer that cracks into shards of chocolate deliciousness when cut. The next layer is delicious fudge brownie, followed by crunchy walnuts at the bottom. The whole thing is surrounded by crunchy sides. This combination makes these the best brownies I have ever eaten.

This recipe, like many other vintage recipes, did not provide me with any instructions. There wasn’t even a baking time and temperature. So, I got out my trusty 1961 copy of the New York Times cookbook to see what their brownie recipe said to do. It was not all that helpful because it was quite different from my Great-Grandmother’s. However, I did note that I needed to whip the eggs, and that 350℉ was probably a good bet for the baking temperature. After doing my research, I dived into the baking.

I started by measuring out 4 ounces of chocolate chips on my scale. The recipe called for 4 squares of baking chocolate, which I did not have. However, some searching online clarified that there is usually about 1 ounce of chocolate per square of baking chocolate. I also then measured out 3/4 cup of butter. While I was doing this I also started to boil about 1.5-2 inches of water in the bottom of a pan. This will come into play later.

I then added 6 eggs and 3 cups of sugar to the mixing bowl of my stand mixer. This may seem like a lot of eggs, but they are what give the brownies their crunchy top. Additionally, since there is no baking powder or soda in this recipe, they serve as the leavening. Leavening is what makes the batter light and fluffy by introducing air or carbon dioxide to make pockets in the dough. These pockets keep the brownies from just being a dense blob of dough.

Then came the tricky part: doing two things simultaneously. I first turned on my mixer to get the eggs and sugar mixing. Then, I added my chocolate and butter to a metal bowl, which I placed over the water I had started boiling earlier. The bowl sat on the rim of the pot so that it was heated by the steam, but did not touch the water. At this point, I turned down the heat so that the water bubbled away happily at a moderate simmer. This combination of a metal bowl and a pot created a kind of double boiler. I have found that this combination actually works better for me than a real double boiler because the rounded edges of the bowl make it easy to stir the chocolate.

Once the chocolate was completely liquid, and the egg and sugar had whipped into a pale yellow foam I moved on to the next step. While keeping the mixer on low, I started to add the chocolate to the egg mixture. Given my previous mishap with eggs getting cooked by hot liquid, I was very careful with this step. I used the whisk attachment and kept the mixer going so that it would be evenly distributed. It was a success! There were no little bits of cooked egg.

At this point, the batter looked like the picture above. I then mixed together the flour and salt, and added that and the vanilla to the batter. I switched from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment to do this.

I then used a spatula to fold in the 1 cup of chopped walnuts.

Once the batter was all done, I turned it into my greased pan. The recipe called for a jellyroll pan, which would usually be about 15×10 inches. However, I used a pan that was about 13×8 inches because that is what I had on hand. I think this may have caused a few problems, but we will get to that later.

I baked the brownies in the oven, checking them every 10 minutes. I was not sure how long to bake them because there was no bake time on the recipe. Additionally, it was hard to check them because the crunchy top made it hard to use a toothpick to check to see how done it was. In the end, I baked them for about 55 minutes, which was probably a bit too long. The crunchy top is supposed to puff up, then fall back down once it cools. Because I dried it out, the top did not fall and instead there was a rather substantial air pocket between the two layers. However, the brownies did not taste too dry, so I don’t think the quality was affected. In the future, I would probably use an actually jellyroll ban so that the baking time would be slightly less, and the top would not get quite so hard. I decreased the cook time for the recipe I posted to address this issue.

These brownies were amazing. Even with the slight mishap with using a pan that was too deep, they still turned out delicious. The fudge-like brownie combined with the crunchy top was an almost perfect combination. I would definitely recommend them to brownie lovers everywhere, or even maybe those who don’t like brownies and are looking for a good first impression. If you want to give these delectable brownies a try head on over to my recipe page to find the complete recipe.

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