Saturday, February 9, 2013

ChezCindy: My Chocolate Hero

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

Alice Medrich is my chocolate hero.  For years, I would happen upon a recipe of hers in various food magazines and always found them to be wonderful.  I finally bought a cookbook of hers (Bittersweet -available on Amazon) and much to the joy of my chocolate-purist husband, have made many more recipes of hers. 

For those of you not familiar with Alice Medrich, she is often thought of as the "Julia Child of chocolate", a self-taught chocolatier, author to 8 cookbooks - 3 of which have been selected as Cookbook of the Year award winners.  Her name is synonymous with chocolate.  Her recipes are innovative, delicious and yummy.  Her knowledge is masterful and her experience is vast.  If you need detail on chocolate, reference Alice's work for your answer.  If you need a delicious chocolate recipe, pick up one of her cookbooks. 

Last weekend I kind of went chocolate crazy.  I made classic chocolate truffles, bittersweet chocolate decadence cookies (known as chocolate fudgies in our house), and chocolate mousse, all recipes from the Bittersweet cookbook. We shared half of the goodness with another chocolate-purist friend to celebrate her birthday.  This weekend I am trying a new recipe from Alice's book, Bittersweet Deception.  The recipe can loosely be described as a "flourless" chocolate cake.  It is made in a round 8-inch cake pan, with many of the same ingredients as mousse, but with 2 tablespoons of flour, and baked in a "water-bath".  I'll let you know how it comes out. 

The recipe I am sharing with you today is Alice's Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts.  The browned butter add a rich nutty flavor, working in harmony with the fudgy chocolate and the crisp bites of walnuts.  If you are not used to working with browned butter, don't be afraid to allow the butter to get really brown.  These are my favorite brownies. 

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Position rack in the bottom third of oven; preheat to 325 degrees.  Line an 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against the sides and leaving a 2-inch overhang.  Coat the foil with non-stick spray.  Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at the bottom of the pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Stir to blend.  Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).  Add eggs to hot mixture, 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition.  When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended.  Beat vigorously 60 strokes.  Stir in nuts.  Transfer to prepared pan. 

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack.  Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan.  Cut the brownies into 4 strips.  Cut each strip crosswise into 4 pieces.  

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