Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brownies with Browned Butter Espresso Frosting


I like to think of brownies as an experiment in the interaction of two principles taken from architecture and design: form and flavor.  Are the brownies cakey, fudgy, gooey, marbled, frosted? Do the brownies have a strong chocolate taste (they friggin' better- none of that blondie business, please)--dark, milk or white chocolate? mocha or mint?  sweet?  a little salty?  (Stay tuned for excellent news I just received about a certain type of salty brownies! Seriously.)

All that said, brownies can be incredibly simple. Architectural design is easy, after all. Simple, not plain, but "just a little bit conceited", like Fergie. They're just all about how chocolately and fudgey/cakey they are. But if you're feeling adventurous, they can be jazzed up by adding another flavor into the mix. The other day when I was invited over to the kitchen of some other friends, Tessa and Katie, I was feeling adventurous.

I found this recipe, that perfect, self-centered brownie: all about having the  right texture and a good amount of chocolate. Pair it with a fierce browned butter and espresso icing inspired by this, and you get the diva of baked goods.


Fudgy, Chewy, Cakey Brownies
adapted from My Baking Addiction's take on “The Perfect Recipe” by Pamela Anderson. No, I thought that, too. Not the one from Baywatch.

Makes 16 brownies.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
cooking spray
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
optional: 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, peanuts, espresso powder

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Fit a sheet of foil in pan and up two sides, so you can use it as a handle to pull cooked brownies from pan (I used parchment paper). Spray sheet with cooking spray.

Melt chocolates and butter in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar, vanilla, espresso powder. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy.

Add dry ingredients, whisk until just incorporated. Stir in nuts, if using.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out with wet crumbs, 35-45 minutes. Note: If you wait until toothpick inserted comes out clean, they’re overcooked. You want fudgy crumbs.



Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Use handles to pull brownies from pan. Completely cool brownies on rack, at least three hours. Cut into squares and serve. If not serving immediately, do not cut brownies. Whole brownie cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and refrigerated for up to five days.


Browned Butter Espresso Icing:
adapted from Recipe Girl

¼ cup butter (½ stick)
1 Tbs espresso powder dissolved in 2 Tbs warm water
1 Tbs whipping cream
2¼ cups powdered sugar (more or less)- sift after measuring

Place butter in saucepan and heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and add espresso; whipping cream.
Whisk in powdered sugar until you have the consistency that you desire (you should be looking for a thick, smooth icing that is still pourable). Pour on top of cooled brownies and spread to edges to cover completely.
Refrigerate until set. Chilled brownies are easiest to cut. Use a large, sharp knife, wipe clean after each cut, and you’ll get nice, clean cuts.


Some notes:

I doubled the recipes and made the brownies in a 9x13 pan because there is a dearth of square pans in my life.
Because of that, I might have overcompensated with the baking time--they came out less fudgy than I expected, but they were still very rich. I think they even needed the strong notes of espresso in the icing to help  cut the richness.
If you look carefully at the picture just above, you can tell that our icing was put on while the brownies were still warm... so it had that nice glisten (i.e. the icing was melting off). My OCD would have liked it if we had waited for the brownies to cool, but my tastebuds could wait no longer.  And despite my obsession, I do believe that form follows flavor.

4 comments:

RecipeGirl said...

These are awesome. I love the concept of your blog. The girls must be swooning over you in college ;)

The Italian Dish said...

Interesting that you paired this icing with the brownie - looks like a great combination! I'll have to try that. My son's good friend goes to Brown, too.

alpha.epsilon.pie@gmail.com said...

RecipeGirl- Thanks! I can't wait to try your brownie recipe. And about the swooning, sometimes I wonder if it's more over me or the cakes and cookies ;)

The Italian Dish- I highly recommend the combination, especially if you're a coffee fan. As a college student, I have become a pretty big fan of coffee...

Fatimah said...

Yum!!! This looks amazing, i am loving your blog! I love the idea of espresso brownies, I am totally a coffee junkie :)

P.s. slightly Salty brownies sound amazing, actually.

http://www.foreverfatty.blogspot.com

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