Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fudgy Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

Happy Mother's Day! Just in time, what does every mother need once in awhile? Chocolate, of course! These brownies take some muscle to mix, but that just decreases the guilt factor--surely burning extra calories making them justifies a slip from the diet?

If you are into cake brownies, then you won't like this recipe. This is for those of you who love thick, fudgy brownies. Make them with or without the frosting; either way I recommend a tall glass of milk to help wash down the gooey goodness.

Another benefit of these brownies is you can make them on the cheap. By using cocoa powder, you get the dark chocolate flavor without shelling out for the irresistible fine-milled 60% cacao chocolate. Make sure to follow the directions exactly. Not stirring completely or warming the batter long enough will result in a grainy dessert at best; chocolate scrambled eggs at worst. Just trust in my own experimentation, and enjoy! If you have a double boiler, go ahead and use it. I wrote out the directions for those of us who have to go the old-school route.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

cooking spray
1 stick plus 2 tbs unsalted butter
1 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c plus 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1/2 c unbleached flour
2/3 c walnuts, chopped (optional)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing (optional)

Place the oven rack on the second position from the bottom and preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Fill a large, deep skillet with 2 inches of water. Bring water to a low simmer, and place a medium heat-safe bowl in the water bath. Place the butter in the bowl and allow to melt. Once melted, add sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. While the bowl is in the water bath, stir until the mixture is well-combined. Stirring occasionally, continue to heat for an additional 5 minutes, or until no grains of sugar can be felt when a drop of batter is rubbed between the fingers (batter should be tolerably hot to touch--not scalding!). Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, or until mixture is warm (about 80 degrees F, if you have a thermometer handy).

Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs and stir until completely incorporated (this will take some upper body strength!); the batter will be shiny. Add the flour 2 tbs at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition (more arm muscle). Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then pull the brownies out by the foil and place on a rack (still on the foil) to finish cooling. Once cooled, if desired, ice brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing (recipe below). Cut into 20 portions, and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c smooth peanut butter
2 tbs butter
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat all the ingredients over medium-low until melted, stirring thoroughly. Once combined, reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to warm an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Use to top brownies, cupcakes, or ice cream. Makes about 1 cup of icing.