Published On: Thu, Nov 9th, 2017

Brownies My Way

Decadent chocolate brownies smothered with more chocolate and sprinkled with pistachios, what more could you want?

These delicious brownies from Cenk Sönmezsoy’s book The Artful Baker are a sure fire winner for any chocolate lover, read about his story below…

Image credit: © 2017 Cenk Sönmezsoy

Brownies My Way

In 2007, about a year into my blogging journey, I’d baked enough brownies to identify my ideal version, and I wanted the world to know, too. It was a fudgy brownie topped with melted milk chocolate and sprinkled with sliced pistachios. The angels must have been on my side the day I took its photo, because when I cut a slice, the chocolate layer snapped at just the right place, with the perfect piece of sliced pistachio staring you right in the face. I didn’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to grab it right off the screen.

My readers loved the photo, and many of them tried the recipe with great success. When I say “my readers,” I mean a few dozen people. But little did I know that one of them was the inimitable baker Nick Malgieri. I learned this when he sent me an e-mail asking for a recipe for an article about baking blogs he was writing for the Washington Post. A couple of weeks later, Brownies My Way was published in the paper along with my photo of it. The icing on the cake was a chart about baking blogs that ran with the online version of the article. I was listed alongside legends like Dorie Greenspan, Peter Reinhart, and Rose Levy Beranbaum. It was just a list of blogs mentioned in the article and in no way equated me with the others, but the mere fact that my name was a few pixels below theirs put me over the moon. I melted like the chocolate on my brownie.

My readership increased a hundredfold overnight and several other interviews and media mentions followed. It was the first turning point in my blogging career, and it led to many proud moments I couldn’t have dreamed of.

Ten years have passed and I’ve learned a lot about brownies and baking in general, so the recipe has changed a bit. Sliced pistachios are whole now (chopped into coarse pieces), because there’s no such thing as too much pistachio. There is such a thing as too much chocolate, however, even for a brownie. Back then, my priority was to increase the chocolate as much as I could, by any means possible. Now, it is all about balance, with a less sweet, less chocolaty brownie topped with intense bittersweet chocolate. I still like to serve these cold, but I’ve reduced their size by cutting the brownie into twenty-five pieces rather than nine.

 

Makes 25 tiny brownies

Ingredients:

For the brownie:

  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces; 170 grams) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces, plus more for pan
  • 8.8 ounces (250 grams) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (93 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (25 grams) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

For the topping:

  • 5 ounces (140 grams) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • & cup (45 grams) whole blanched pistachios, coarsely chopped (and toasted, if desired)

Method:

  1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20.5-cm) square baking pan. Line the pan with two overlapping strips of parchment paper that are the width of the pan bottom and long enough to cover the bottom and sides with 2 inches (5 cm) of overhang on each side. Butter the lower parchment to secure the top sheet.
  3. To make the brownie, in a medium heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan filled with 2 inches (5 cm) of barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula. Remove the bowl from the pan and let cool completely, stirring occasionally.
  4. Sift together the ‘our, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat at medium speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the ‘our mixture and beat at the lowest speed just until incorporated.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula, reaching down to the bottom to incorporate any unmixed dry ingredients. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula.
  7. Bake until a paper-thin crinkly crust forms on the surface of the brownie, about 25 minutes. A wooden toothpick inserted into the center should come out with thick, gooey batter clinging to it. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. As the brownie cools, the center will sink slightly.
  8. Using the parchment overhang as handles, lift the brownie out of the pan, peel away the parchment, and transfer it to a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  9. To make the topping, in a medium heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan filled with 2 inches (5 cm) of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula. Remove the bowl from the pan and let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Scrape the melted chocolate onto the center of the brownie and, using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top, allowing it to cascade over the sides. Scatter the pistachios evenly over the top. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the topping is firm, about 1 hour.
  11. Using a cake lifter, transfer the brownie to a cutting board. Warm the blade of a large knife with a kitchen torch or under hot running water (wipe dry before using) and cut the brownie into 5 equal strips in each direction to make 25 squares, wiping the blade clean with a damp paper towel between cuts and rewarming it as needed. Serve cold.

Storage

The brownies will keep, wrapped airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

Recipe from The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker by Cenk Sönmezsoy (Abrams, £40)

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