Sunday, April 4, 2010

Oprah's favourite brownies



These brown beauties, which made Oprah's favourite things, are from that little Brooklyn pastry shop success story, Baked. Incidentally, these sell US $38 by the dozen.

A cheaper option would be to make it yourself, and thankfully, Baked owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have released the recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. This homey cookbook features wonderful throwback American recipes, some of which call for quaint classic ingredients like Ovaltine as well as very of-the-moment food stuffs such as matcha, chipotle and espresso - but fear not, most people's pantries are well stocked as is to tackle the recipes without having to search far and wide for when the whim to bake hits.

Oprah published the spicy variation of this brownie four years after the original captured her heart, so you can imagine that this has made a lasting impression on her. The recipe is available here. To make the original, omit the chili powder, cinnamon and grated ginger, and make the following changes: 2 1/2 eggs (instead of 3), 5.5 ounces 60 to 72% chocolate (instead of just 5) and 1 Tb cocoa (instead of 1.5).

These are excellent, at once delicate and fudgy, chocolaty with every nibble, and I could see dropping $38 for a dozen if I were a New Yorker. However, these lean a bit more towards sweet than bittersweet for my current liking. Mind you, I did use a chocolate percentage that is a bit shy of 60%. I will likely go up to 72% next time around (and I rarely ever go that high when baking).



So, this is all the baking I'm going to be doing until exams are over. See you all in June!

Notes

Here are a few of my tips and tricks to brownies:
  • Above all, do not overbake your brownies. A dry brownie is uneatable and unsalvageable. You may crumble it over ice cream, and the ice cream might be worse for it. On the other hand, even a woefully underbaked brownie sets in the fridge overnight and turns into something deliciously fudgy. So, if you are to err, do so on the side of underbaking.
  • The different layers of complexity inherent in chocolate only come through if the brownie is moist. This almost universally for anything chocolate - it has to be in a moist vehicle! Imagine a chocolate bar. Now imagine it melting with your body heat when you place it on your tongue and it bursts into its full flavours. Mmmm. Now imagine dry cocoa on your tongue. Enough said - chocolate needs to be moist.
  • To this end, you must keep on checking on your brownies from 5 minutes or so before the stated end time. Poke it in the middle with a skewer. If the skewer comes out dry, it might be too late. You want the skewer with a good amount of moist crumbs attached to it (not wet batter, however).
  • To get fudgy brownies, start with a recipe that promises to be fudgy. Your goal after this is to minimize the air you whisk in the batter. Do not overstir your eggs in the chocolate. This means starting with room temperature or, even better, eggs warmed by soaking in hot tap water for 5 minutes. If the eggs are fridge-cold, you will have no choice but to whisk and whisk to get it incorporated with the chocolate. Also, fold the flour gently and just until it's almost fully incorporated. Don't be fussed by lumps unless they are huge. Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan, then rap the pan a few times on the counter before placing in the oven. This gets rid of air. At half the baking time, rotate the pan - but before you do so, take it out the oven and rap it on the counter a few more times. When the brownie is done, rap it on the counter again. Then, leave it alone until it totally cools. This will take about two hours at least. Leave it alone.
  • Just so I'm clear, when I say rap, do it with a reasonably strong force. Drop the pan straight on from a height of about a foot. Brownie batters are thick. It takes a good amount of force to release trapped bubbles.

7 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those look fantastic! Thanks for the tips!

Cheers,

Rosa

Melanie-J. said...

Oh My GOODNESS Julius!! These looks amazingly delicious - and I love the way you write! :)

I really want to get that "Baked" Cookbook - I definitely like the idea of baking with Ovaltine or crazy yum spices! I have not gotten around to making the Clafouti yet, as I was too busy making Beef Wellington's for dinner:)

Good tips too! Thanks!

Melanie-J. said...

Oh My GOODNESS Julius!! These looks amazingly delicious - and I love the way you write! :)

I really want to get that "Baked" Cookbook - I definitely like the idea of baking with Ovaltine or crazy yum spices! I have not gotten around to making the Clafouti yet, as I was too busy making Beef Wellington's for dinner:)

Good tips too! Thanks!

precious said...

This is nice! The brownies look so delicious! And thanks for the tips!
cribs

Botacook said...

I'm happy to see you back here. It's always a pleasure to visit your blog!

orangepflege said...

WoW! that looks very delicious..
24h pfleger

ifelove said...

I plan to try and make these tomorrow.