Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big Flavor Brownies

Big Flavor Brownies adapted from Barron’s Brownies

When David Lebovitz wrote of these brownies he used the words “insane” and “massive.”

Go big or go home. I took notice.

And he reported the brownies baked from this heavy batter sliced easier and tasted better after some time in the freezer. My brownie slices always look untidy.

David adapted Maida Heatter’s Barron’s Brownies, a recipe she adapted from a Palm Beach newspaper article some years back. I made them last month, adding the walnuts as he did, but drew the line at a filling of peppermint cream because I don’t much care for chocolate mint anything.

Too impatient to put the whole thing in the freezer and wait, I froze one-half. The other half I took to church. The small bites I cut were typically ragged, but the deep, dark chocolate flavor went straight to my heart.

For some reason they didn’t seem to go over as well with my friends. They’re a modest bunch, I reasoned, given to some restraint. Perhaps these brownies were the food equivalent to Big Hair and therefore imposing.

I did not want to think that my new friends didn’t like chocolate. That would be too sad.

The remainders I happily finished off, bite by tiny bite, over the next week.

And I occasionally would think about the other brownies in the freezer.

“Should I bring out them out now?”

“No, keep them for hard times.” And by hard times I mean anything from the electricity going out to a bad day.

Last week, I spent a hardscrabble day in the garden and failed to bake anything for church.

Hard times.

After an overnight thaw in the refrigerator, they were easy to slice — no ragged edges. Beautifully presentable. They also were very fudgy. I cut them in one-inch squares, carrying the straight-sided middle pieces to church, keeping the edges at home. (The edges were chewy and ever so slightly burnt, which is how I like them.)

“These brownies are so good,” at least two friends responded, asking for the recipe. Children jumped for seconds.

Maybe it was the tidier presentation or the fudgy texture or just a change in seasons, but this second batch was devoured.

And I still had the crusts at home.

Big Flavor Brownies
adapted from David Lebovitz based on a recipe by Maida Heatter

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1 T instant coffee or espresso
3 1/2 c sugar
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 c walnut halves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 425º.

Line a 9 x 13-in. pan with foil, shiny side down, buttering the foil or applying a nonstick spray.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan and heat on low, stirring frequently. (Or you can put the chocolate and butter in a large Pyrex measuring cup. Zap this in the microwave for 10 second bursts, stirring each time, until the mixture is melted and smooth.)

Put the eggs, vanilla, salt, instant coffee, and sugar in a bowl and beat with a mixer on high speed for about ten minutes until foamy and stiff.

Add the chocolate and butter mixture by hand (or beat on low speed), then add the flour and the nuts.

Place the batter into the pan, smoothing it out.

Bake the brownies for 35 minutes, rotating the pan midway during baking.

When the brownies are done, they will have a firm crust on top but a toothpick inserted into the center should come out wet. Do not overbake!

Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan. At this point you can slice into whatever shape you prefer.  If you can summon the patience, freeze them and slice the next day.


  1. "Perhaps these Brownies were the food equivalent to Big Hair" I almost fell off the couch laughing..were we seperated at birth? This is what happens when a Southerner moves to the Midwest..people just smile at us like we are touched in the head!


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