I was going to save this post and recipe until Tuesday, but I thought that might be selfish. Brownies are fun for everyone. Brownies are not a Country Club. Brownies do not require a sport jacket for young men.
One of the 'do's I'm going to this weekend is in Seattle, and the hostess invited potluck-style offerings from the guests. I thought about making potato salad and putting it on the roof of the car for four hours during the drive, so that the mayonnaise dressing would be nice and toasty by the time we got there, for all the children and elderly, but that's too close to Jonestown Status for my liking.
"EVERYBODY BETTER BE EATING THIS."
Brownies, you can make them ahead of time and they're fine, even better, two or three days later. Really. Everything melds. So I'm making brownies, and bringing Kettle Chips and drinks. Orzo salad too, because even though we're bringing a cooler so the drinks will be cold when we get there, I trust olive oil and lemon juice more than egg yolks. The recipe for the salad and pictures will go up on Tuesday, marking the first non-sweet offering from this site. I don't know what is going on. Obviously, judging by the Hallmark Movie tones of last night's entry, I'm completely erratic.
Ina Garten is my go-to person, for recipes for entertaining. Abundant, pleasing to both the eye and mouth, they just sound good. She knows what people like, and her recipes reflect the type of entertaining I like best, the giving kind. I don't follow them exactly, because I personally feel that Ina has a too-liberal hand with salt and a penchant for layering her fats, to the point of some of her recipes being inedible. For instance -- if a dip has cream cheese in it, does it need both sour cream and mayonnaise as well? And the day something needs two teaspoons of kosher salt, that isn't a brine recipe, is the day we need to think about what we're tasting -- elevated flavors, the reason salt is used in my opinion, or salt period.
Her outrageous brownies are truly outrageous, to the point where Jem's earrings were added in lieu of nuts. But I can't put a pound of butter into a recipe for brownies, even when the result is a half sheet pan's worth. Not when there's 2 cups of sugar, and six eggs already included.
I've followed the recipe exactly a few times -- and each time they've always come out slimy with butter. The bottoms greased with it, each bite soggy and overly-rich. It was like eating a brownie after someone poured a stick of melted butter over the batch.
So I cut a stick out, completely, and everything and everyone is better for it. For good measure, I dropped the redundant 1/4 cup of sugar the recipe called for, after the initial two.
Next time I'm going to reduce the eggs by two, to four. I feel like there is a difference between making the ultimate, or the outrageous, the best, however you want to put it, and making something obscene.
But these are still, in my opinion, the ultimate brownies. A mix of chocolates (Ina doesn't use milk chocolate, and she uses less flour, more sugar and butter and espresso) rounds the final flavor into something deep and dark but not at all bitter. Like your favorite aunt!
Based on Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies
6 room temperature eggs
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, sliced into squares
12 ounces (1 bag) Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
1 heaping cup good milk chocolate chips (Guittard)
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1 Tbs AP flour
Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper, first lightly spraying the pan with oil or butter. This will help the paper adhere, but there's no need to spray the actual parchment paper. You could spray your boyfriend in the face with it, though.
I heard you guys were into that.
Over a simmering pan of water, melt the bittersweet, milk, and semi-sweet chips with the butter until glossy and smooth. Remove from heat and cool for ten minutes.
Furiously, I mean with some repressed arm anger, like there are tiny riots in your fingers, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (it will be the one that holds all of the finished batter) until thick, smooth and golden yellow. Add the vanilla and whisk again -- what you want is a frothy, light-colored foam on top of the mixture. It will develop while you wait for the chocolate and butter to cool.
Also. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Pour 1/4 of the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Stir until combined, then pour the remaining chocolate into the eggs. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir until combined.
Scatter the flour, baking powder and salt over the surface of the mixture. Using an over-under method, mix until no streaks of flour remain. You'll have a thick, shiny batter that almost resists movement.
If you like, toss the optional 1 cup milk chocolate chips with one tablespoon of flour, and fold into the batter. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth with a spatula or knife until even. You can replace the chocolate chips with nuts of your choice, metal screws or whole peppercorns. Barbie shoes.
Bake for 30 minutes -- however, set the time for fifteen. When it goes off, using a potholder, lift the edge of the pan and allow to fall back against the rack. This will allow air to escape, and make for a better brownie. Set the timer for another fifteen minutes.
This time when it goes off, remove the brownies from the oven. They should have a satiny, brown flaky top and a toothpick inserted in the very center should come out with damp, fudge-y crumbs clinging to it.
Cool completely on top of the stove, in the pan. If you like, wrap tightly with saran wrap and chill overnight. Or eat them slightly warm, maybe in your backyard, maybe in the movie theater, in the dark, with the other food you smuggled in.
I heard you guys were into that, too.