There are days when I feel that I am just seconds away from renaming this blog “Oui, Chef – The Chronicle of Teaching My Kids How to Fuel Their Chocolate Addictions”, what with all the attention we’ve given brownies, bouchons, cakes, meringues, ice creams, cupcakes, sauces, and cookies that feature the freakin’ stuff.
In our never ending quest to discover the ultimate brownie (see Ad Hoc, and Killer KA), and with the help of a tip from one of our readers, Lauren, we’re here today to talk about these most fabulous “Baked” Brownies. Here, “Baked” is not a reference as to how the brownies are cooked, but rather the name of the world renowned bakery in Brooklyn that gave birth to these lovelies. After Lauren had tried the Ad Hoc brownies that we posted, and given them high marks, she asked if I had ever tried the “Baked” brownies, and was kind enough to forward a link to a story about them.
Don’t ask me how, given the amount of time I spend on-line reading about food, and researching recipes, I’d never heard of these babies until Lauren mentioned them to me. It turns out that they are among the most famous brownies in the country, claimed to be the ultimate brownie specimen by none other than chocolate luminaries Oprah Winfrey, AND Chris Kimball (thank goodness Oprah can’t stick to a diet, or the wider world may never have learned about these delightful little treats).
Lucky for you all, I was a VERY good boy last year, and for Christmas Santa brought me a copy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, the first cookbook published by the guys who own “Baked”, Matt lewis and Renato Poliafito. They just recently published another book called Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented. I can’t speak for the new book, but the first looks fabulous, and in it, I was thrilled to find this recipe. With hardly a days delay, we cracked it open and made a batch of these brownies. Are they as good as the KA’s or the Ad Hoc’s? That’s hard to say, but they’re certainly among the best I’ve ever had.
Like the Ad Hocs and Killer KAs that came before, these treats reside at the very pinnacle of browniedom. Which you prefer will likely depend on what kind of texture you like your brownie to have, as they all exhibit a deep, dark flavor that only the finest brownies can achieve. If your tastes tend toward fudgey brownies, then the “Baked” brownies are for you. Just look at the photo above, there is but a smidge of cakey texture at the very top of the brownie, the rest is as dense as fudge. These brownies were hands-down my wife’s favorites. From my perspective, the Ad Hoc was slightly more cakey, and the Killer KAs, the cakiest of the three (wow, there are a lot of auto-correct red underlines in this paragraph, leading me to question whether cakey, and cakiest are even words…..browniedom is definitely out. Oh well, YOU know what I mean, yes?)
Given that months passed between our making each recipe, it is impossible for me to declare a victor in our little competition, perhaps we’ll have to make all three at the same time and have a brownie smackdown? Until then, trust me when I say that any one of these recipes will satisfy your most urgent chocolate craving, and will leaving you feeling that you’ve enjoyed a near perfect confection.
Enjoy! – Steve
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- 11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely
- 8 ounces butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal pan 9x13x2 pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.
- Configure a large sized double boiler. Place the chocolate, the butter, and the instant espresso powder in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. Mixture should be room temperature.
- Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter 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.
- Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (DO NOT USE A WHISK) fold the dry into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
- 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 center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.