February 4, 2013

Truffle Brownies

Everyone has their own idea of the perfect brownie. Some people like them chewy. Others prefer them fudgy. Still others want them cake-like. Some people want their brownies underbaked. Others insist on their brownies well done. And nuts versus no nuts? I don't even want to go there.

So maybe these brownies will speak to you. Maybe they won’t. I call them truffle brownies because they remind me of truffles, with their thin, crackly shell and smooth, intensely chocolate interior.

Not only do I love these brownies, I love the recipe. Why? Because the ingredients are listed by weight as well as by volume. As they say, baking is a science. When you’re cooking, you can improvise, throwing in a little bit of this and that until you get the results you’re after. But with baking, it’s important to stick to the recipe and properly measure the ingredients if you want your final product to turn out just right.

But anyone who's baked knows it's not easy to perfectly measure, say, 1 cup of flour. It sounds easy enough. But how much flour you actually get is going to vary depending on whether you scoop the flour directly into the measuring cup or spoon the flour into the measuring cup; whether you sift the flour before measuring it or not; or whether or not you tap the measuring cup to let the flour settle. I know, it sounds snippy. But it makes a difference.
my kitchen scale

Weighing your ingredients takes all of the guesswork out of it. If you know you need 125 grams of flour, it doesn’t matter how you get that flour into your bowl. 

But never fear. Even if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can make these brownies. And they'll turn out great. After all, how wrong can you possibly go with butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate?

Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl.

Melt the two together. I heated the mixture for 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between. You can also do this over gently simmering water. Either way, be sure not to overheat the chocolate or it will taste burnt. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Mix in the sugar.

Then stir in the eggs, vanilla and salt.

Measure the flour.

Slowly stir the flour into the chocolate mixture until it's just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. 

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or take the brownies out earlier if you're an underbaked brownie lover).

Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or my favorite way -- topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Truffle Brownies

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 tsp table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

1.    Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

2.    In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. (That’s what I did.)

3.    Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even.

4.    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Let cool and cut into desired size. If desired, dust the brownies with powdered sugar or top with a scoop of ice cream before serving.

Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies