Note: This drawing is now closed. I guess I'm a bit of a brownie/bar freak -- both eating them and baking them. I'm lucky to be on a photoshoot in Red Hook, Brooklyn this week, just a couple blocks away from Baked. Their desserts are multi-layered, totally over the top and awesome. But sometimes you just want a simple brownie, and that's where the new Michel Roux cookbook, Desserts, comes in. Yes, I worked on this book, but not in the normal way I do. The book was produced and published in the U.K., and I was the editor only for the American edition. Speaking of the American edition, if you live in the U.S. and want to be entered into a drawing for a copy of the book, you have until the end of November 19 to post a comment below.Back to the brownies and bars, sometimes simple is best. Good chocolate, classic technique, and lots of nuts. Like a lot of my favorite brownie recipes, these are impossibly soft when they're right out of the oven. You'll need some patience as they settle down after a few hours.Then they become easy to cut. The texture perfectly bridges that line between cakey and chewy. And they're a bit less sweet than most brownie recipes I've tried. A coworker and I agreed, these are brownies for grown-ups. Don't forget to post a comment if you want to be entered into a drawing for a copy of the book.
I know, I know, "best ever" is a big claim. Food bloggers make it all the time. I make it all the time. But if the Intense Chocolate Brownies recipe in Flour by Joanne Chang isn't the best ever, it comes really close. The texture is amazingly moist, but not ridiculously so. The chocolate flavor is deep. And maybe best of all, you get that cool shiny thing going on the top. It reminds me a little bit of those packaged brownie mixes, not that I make them, but I've seen photos of them in advertisements. Well, that's all there is to say. And the "best ever" thing isn't even my own assessment. I brought a bunch of these to the office, and a few of my coworkers said they were the best thing I've ever baked. I bake a lot, so that's kind of a big deal. If for some crazy reason you haven't bought Flour yet, I urge you to check it out. And if you're lucky enough to live in Boston where you can visit one of the Flour bakeries, save me a sticky bun.
I've been teasing about it for weeks now, and I couldn't be any more excited about the official publication of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. You can already get Shauna's first cookbook on sites like Amazon and B&N.com, and it will be showing up in stores nationwide over the next week or so. Shauna recently announced an opportunity for fans to try recipes from the book even before it was in stores, so I couldn't resist. I chose to try the gluten-free peanut butter brownies of course, since you all know I'm a baking maniac.I'd never bought oat flour, sweet rice flour, or xantham gum before. You even dust the pan with the sweet rice flour.I can't give you the recipe (check out the book for it), but it starts out like most brownie recipes, melting some butter and chocolate. Mmmmm.The flour combination is pushed through a sieve. Besides the gluten-free flours, this is pretty straightforward.And like any baking recipe, you combine the wet and dry ingredients to create the batter. At this point it's a little firmer than some brownie batters I've made.Then you spread the batter in the pan and top it with dollops of peanut butter -- my favorite flavor combination.Then gently swirl the peanut butter into the chocolate. I was ready to eat the raw batter at this point.They baked up perfectly in the exact amount of time specified. Like a lot of brownies, they puffed up a bit in the oven and then settled a bit after sitting.Once they'd cooled a little, I turned them out of the pan. Unlike some brownies when it's almost impossible to do this, these came right out in one piece. Flawless.Then came the eating, and there was a lot of that. I guess I'm biased because I absolutely adore peanut butter and chocolate together, but these were amazing. I seriously don't think anyone would even know they were gluten-free unless I told them. And honestly, I've had a lot of gluten-free treats in bakeries, and I'd trade them all for a pan of these. I can't wait to try more of the recipes from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.
Especially now that Joy the Baker posted a comment on my entry about the Cran-Banana Bread, I'm happily searching through her site for more recipes to try. Here's a winner called Chocolate Brownie Cookies which she says she got from King Arthur Flour.So what makes them brownie cookies? Well, they're very chocolatey. And super soft, like almost too soft to be cookies. And they have that cool shine on top. Usually I associate that shine with brownie mixes (which I do not use), but how can you not love the way the surface of the cookie picks up the light?I underbaked some of them like the photo above. I warned friends and family about the underbaked cookies because they were almost gooey inside, but everyone seemed to want to try those specifically.The properly baked ones were awesome too. You can see here they were just a bit lighter and thicker.A few tweaks... I didn't have espresso powder, but I'd totally try that next time. I had to throw in some semi-sweet chocolate with the bittersweet because I didn't have enough. And I added chopped walnuts because, well, I love nuts in my brownies and figured I'd love them in these cookies too. The brownie cookies were a pretty major hit. Thanks, Joy.
I've read on some of my favorite baker blogs (you know who you are) about baking extravaganzas -- multiple cakes, cookies, and other treats all made in one night. Besides maybe Christmas, that's not usually my thing, but I've had some reasons to celebrate in the past few days. I browsed through Martha Stewart's Cookies and put together a shopping list for not one, not two, not three, but four types of brownies. Then I figured I'd see how things went. A few hours later, I'd baked them all, so I brought them to work for a little office brownie party.I had never tried any of the recipes before, and this was the only brownie that turned out fudgy like I prefer. It was flavored with both grated fresh ginger and dried ginger -- really interesting if you like chocolate and spice.I thought these peanut butter swirl brownies were too light and cakey for my normal preferences, but they were gone pretty fast at the party. Next time I'd maybe underbake them. Flavorwise, they're hard to beat.These cream cheese blondies were the sleeper. People seemed almost reluctant to try them. Even though they look cakey, they were quite moist, and there was just a hint of cheesecake flavor. I'd make this again for sure.The coconut brownies, like the peanut butter ones, had a high visual appeal. Again, I'd probably underbake them next time, but I'm a real coconut fan, so it was hard to go wrong. A disclaimer -- I couldn't find unsweetened coconut in my regular supermarket, so I went with the sweetened stuff, so I can't vouch for the real recipe either way.I'm still snacking on the leftovers as I write. And to Gypsy, Jana, and Marcy (and the rest of the team), thanks again.