I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like. They’re like rainy days, new shoes and old-time television in that way: No matter how many times you have one, it’s still just as enjoyable. So when I saw this random recipe Friday, torn out of a magazine, tucked under some other papers on the table, I wasn’t a hard sell. I’d be making them that night.
Nigella Lawson said somewhere that food should be a celebration. (That’s when I knew I liked her, incidentally.) And that’s really what these brownies are. When I mixed the batter together, its rich, dark color riddled with chips of chocolate and thick in consistency, I kept asking myself, What should we celebrate?
And I suppose I never did find an answer, although, in another way, I found several. Saturday night, driving home from the basketball game, we ate these brownies and some banana bread in the car, celebrating the Spurs and a good night. Sunday, after seeing my friend for lunch after church, I ate a brownie with my fingers, grabbing bits and taking them with me to the computer. I ate another at my desk yesterday morning, I wish I could say with my lunch, but really it was more of a breakfast, on a day when the sun didn’t set until around 5 PM (!) and the golden sky signaled hope that winter and its dark days would end.
When we say food is celebrating—well, I guess I can’t speak for Nigella—but I think, we’re saying we choose to see things to celebrate with it, be they Friday nights at home or Saturdays spent cleaning or Sundays eating grilled-chicken pitas over interesting conversation. When we celebrate, we are stopping to think about the good things and remember why they’re good.
With these chunky, dense, intensely chocolate brownies, you’ll find it easy to see what I mean. They’re rich—I couldn’t eat more than one in a sitting, and that was all alone in the kitchen—and they’re all the things a good brownie should be. If they were shoes, they’d be a killer pair of black heels, always in style and just a little bit fancy.
In fact, eating them, you might find they’re a reason to celebrate in themselves.
*Oh, before I forget: The lovely people behind Tim-Tam cookies sent me a sleeve of the treats earlier this week. Have you heard of Tim-Tam cookies? They’re lovely: chocolate around chocolate, with a wafers inside, and chocolate cream. Apparently, they’re the #1 cookie in Australia (!) and have just recently made it to this side of the ocean. Try them.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour, as seen in The Baker’s Catalogue
What’s unique about these brownies is their shape. You cut them into circles, making them look a little fancier, and you can garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and espresso powder, if desired. Since I didn’t have a 1.5-inch round cutter, I got creative and used the bottom of a glass for a template. Then I tried a few other round items until I found a shape I liked. Whatever you do, remember the brownies will be rich; you’ll want to aim small in the sizing.
1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 1/4 cups (3 3/4 ounces) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan (or a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan). For guaranteed easy removal of the brownies, line the greased pan with parchment, and grease the parchment.
Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan set over low heat.
Add the sugar, stirring to combine.
Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla.
Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth.
Add the flour and chips, stirring until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the brownies for 28 to 34 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and barely set in the center.
Remove the brownies from the oven, and cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.
Use a 1.5-inch round cutter to cut as many circles as possible out of the brownies. Wrap well; enjoy the leftover scraps.