Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Really Really Good Brownies

Today I almost drowned in an ocean of brownies. Not a bad way to go, huh?

Do you see this pan? It's big. Typically brownies are made in a 13x9 inch pan and sometimes even just an 8x8 inch pan. This is an 18x12 pan, also known as a half sheet pan, and this glorious recipe makes enough brownies for a large crowd. Today I doubled it. I had two half sheet pans full of brownies. That is 8 sticks of butter, 3 1/2 pounds of chocolate chips, a dozen eggs, and you don't want to know how much sugar. Thank goodness I bought some gigantic mixing bowls at the Cash n' Carry back in January.

I have this little motto: "When in doubt, double!" and for the most part it serves me well. I would so much rather have too much food than not enough. I like to be generous with my food rather than stingy and if I really do make too much, well there is always leftovers or the freezer (or the neighbors).

Two of my clients are in need of brownies. Stephanie is hosting a lunch on Thursday for her large family to celebrate her brother's upcoming wedding. She asked me to help out with some salads and some desserts. The other client's daughter is due to have a baby at the beginning of July. She asked me recently about food that her daughter might want post-partum. Her daughter is a vegetarian and I think she assumed I would recommend all kinds of healthy and satisfying food, but the first thing that popped in to my head was BROWNIES.

After I had both of my sons, my appetite was enormous. They say you burn somewhere around 600 calories a day nursing so it would make sense that you want to eat more. Assuming that a typical brownie has somewhere between 400 and 600 calories, I'm not sure how I can explain that I was eating at least three a day. All I know is that I had to have them. So, I think E's daughter will be happy that she has some good ones on hand.

And these are really really good. In my opinion, they are the perfect cross between fudgy and cakey and there are chocolate chips and walnuts strewn throughout so there is enough for your mouth to do. I will tell you, if you want your brownies to basically be just a huge square of fudge, check out this recipe. But if you like them cake-ier and you want to make a LOT of them, see below.

If you don't own a half sheet pan, it is a great thing to have in your kitchen. I use mine constantly. It is perfect for roasting all sorts of veggies and can double as a cookie sheet. I've also used mine to make granola. I got mine at Williams Sonoma, but they have them everywhere.

Outrageous Brownies
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Makes 20 very large brownies

Ina Garten always calls for extra large eggs in her recipes but I always use large with no ill effects.

1lb. unsalted butter
1lb. plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 tbsp. instant coffee granules
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a 12x18x1 inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture in to the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 oz. of the chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour in to the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes more, until a toothpick comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Allow to cool completely and then cut in to bars.

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