Brown Butter Brownies

I have a confession to make… in general, I think out of the box brownie mixes are better than brownies from scratch. Crazy, I know. But it’s true. I haven’t found a brownie recipe that really beats Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate mix. But! These come close. And they offer a rich nuttiness (thanks to the browned butter) that’s distinct and delicious.

See, I like a chewy brownie. It should be somewhat crisp on the outside with a rich, gooey center that still has some structure to it. So it’s chewy rather than straight fudgy. Admittedly, this is a somewhat nuanced, nitpicky pallet thing that’s hard to describe. But box brownie mixes can achieve it while I’ve yet to really get it right with a scratch recipe. It’s probably the preservatives. Who knows.

The important thing is that these come close! If I have to make brownies in future, and I’m not going for a Nutella brownie, then this will be my new go-to recipe. They’re relatively standard brownies with just enough of a flavor twist to make them unique.

I wasn’t sure if the brown butter flavor would really come through with a dark chocolate recipe, but it does. And the lower cooking temperature, generous amount of egg, and limited flour likely contribute to the texture that meets my preferences.

It’s also nice that these make a big ol’ batch – 9×13 rather than the never-quite-enough 8×8 pan. Consequently, this made enough brownies to feed my improv team and to chop into brownie chunks for an ice cream experiment. Definitely a plus. And one of my favorite things about most brownie recipes is that you melt the butter, so you don’t necessarily have to plan ahead and leave butter on the counter to soften.

Probably because I was in a bit of a hurry, I misread the recipe and added more salt than it called for – but that was part of what made them a hit with folks. Sweet and salty are usually a pretty great combo, and this is no exception.

*I should probably also confess I didn’t use the expensive butter for these – it’s just there for the photo op.

Brown Butter Brownies

Grade: A

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, cut into chunks (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons strongly brewed coffee/decaf (or water)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips or chunks (I like Ghirardelli dark chips as they’re bigger and chunkier)

Preheat your oven to 325° F, and line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil (especially if it’s a glass dish like mine). Coat the foil with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan, brown the butter over a medium heat. This takes 8-10 minutes, generally. Let the butter melt, stirring frequently. It will turn from a bright yellow to a white bubbling foam that hisses and crackles. When the foam starts to die down keep a close eye on the butter because it will quickly start to form brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and you have to keep stirring it so that they don’t burn and turn black. Once you see lots of light brown flecks floating around your butter, and the liquid has taken on an amber tone, quickly remove the pan from the heat.

Add the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, vanilla and coffee to the saucepan, mixing it all together with a wooden spoon. At first it’ll seem grainy, but it will smooth out. Let it cool for 5 minutes or so.

Add the eggs to the warm mixture, one at a time, stirring quickly so that there isn’t a chance of the eggs cooking. After about a minute of constant stirring, the batter starts to look shiny and thick. Once it does, add in the flour, mixing it all together for another minute.

Gently stir in the chunks of dark chocolate, right before you put the batter in the oven.

Transfer the batter to your pan, making sure it is spread out evenly and fills all the corners. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.

Cool entirely on a wire rack before cutting and serving. It’ll be a challenge, but brownies, especially gooey ones like these, do better if you give them time to set.

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