When I was a teacher in Boston, there were two different routes I could take home – both journeys would require me to change trains. One of the routes, however, when I transferred lines, brought me smack bang in front of my favourite Boston bakery, Tatte Fine cookies and cakes. I admit that there were times when I’d deliberately throw my will power aside and choose this route with the sole purpose of passing this heavenly bakery which churned out the most delicious dark chocolate brownies with hazelnuts I’d ever sampled. One bite of this dense, fudgy delight and a huge smile would spread across your face and your eyes would widen in surprise (even if it was the gazillionth time you’d tasted the brownie) and basically the world would be a wonderful place simply because of this toothsome treat.
Far from Boston now, in my Oxford kitchen, I’ve attempted to recreate these scrumptious brownies. I adapted the recipe from the famous Baked Brownie featured in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook. I’m pleased and slightly scared for my waistline to say that these brownies are as good, if not better, than Tatte’s brownies. If you’re looking for a brownie recipe with the wow factor, you’ll win them all with this one. However, you won’t be completely alone as the Baked Brownie has won the hearts of readers from O Magazine, America’s Test Kitchen and the Today show.
Baked Note: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several important factors. 1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-coloured cocoa does not have enough depth. 2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter, and 3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been over-baked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.
It’s time for Miss. Barry’s Brownie Bake-off!
Yield: 24 brownies
1¼ cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces (313 grams) of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) of unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
2 tbsp of vanilla extract
½ cup of packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
100 grams of hazelnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.
2. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass or light coloured metal pan.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
4. Chop up the dark chocolate into coarsely chopped pieces.
5. Place the chocolate pieces, butter and instant espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate mixture occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, however, keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars to the mixture. Whisk until completely combined. Then remove the bowl from the pan for about 5-7 minutes until the mixture is at room temperature.
6. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
7. Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Use a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) to fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
8. Lightly fold the hazelnuts into the mixture.
9. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotate the pan half-way through baking) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the centre of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
11. Cut yourself an enormously large brownie, a large cold glass of milk and enjoy the spoils of your bake-off.