Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Brownie Experiment

One of my husband's favorite treats is homemade brownies, and he's rather particular in how he likes to have them made. He doesn't want "extra stuff" in his brownies, like caramel, chips, or cream cheese. He prefers them plain, except for the addition of chopped walnuts. He prefers them fudge-y, not cake-like, and he'd prefer that I not "ruin them" with frosting. Instead, I just dust powdered sugar on the top after they've cooled a bit.

Anyway, I am doing a little experimentation with my husband's favorite brownies today. Hopefully, they'll turn out just as good as his usual recipe. Normally, he would say, "don't mess with success," but this time the change was actually his suggestion.

I make brownies on such a regular basis that I don't even consult the recipe anymore, though I know where to find it if I ever needed it again. And for that reason, we go through quite a bit of Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate. I ran out of it again last weekend, and for some strange reason our local grocery store hasn't had Bakers Semi-Sweet on its shelves for a while--at least it wasn't when we checked three times last week. In any case, that started my husband thinking about substitutions for this ingredient, so I looked online to see if I could substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for the Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate.

I found a great online chocolate reference page on this website. And my husband picked up a huge economy-sized bag of semi-sweet chips at our local Costco store (a 72-oz. "Chocolate Lover's Size"). So this afternoon I'm using 1/3 cup chocolate chips in place of two 1-oz. squares of bakers chocolate. The brownies are in the oven as I write this post, so I'll let you know if they turn out as well as the original recipe.

Before I type out the recipe, though, I want to emphasize that my sweet husband, though particular at times in his tastes, is actually a very gracious and gentle man. Often, when we bow our heads to thank the Lord before a meal, he thanks God for the food that his "dear wife has prepared," and after a meal he often gives me a kiss and thanks me for cooking for him...When you have a dear man like this in your life, you really do want to make an effort to please him. I am very blessed to be married to him, and I always want him to feel blessed by our marriage, too.

Anyway, here's the recipe as I am making it. The original recipe appeared in my tried-and-true edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Powdered sugar (to dust on top of the brownies)

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter, stirring them together. After they are melted, turn off the heat and cool the mixture just a bit before adding the eggs--if you add the eggs when the mixture is too hot, you'll actually cook the eggs before you bake the brownies. Stir the mixture again, adding the vanilla. Then add the flour and walnuts, stirring to make sure that all ingredients are well-incorporated.

Prepare an 8x8 baking pan by greasing it with butter and then a dusting of flour to keep your brownies from sticking when you remove them from the pan. Pour in your brownie mixture and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the pan of baked brownies should come out "clean"...meaning that you might have a few small crumbs on it, but no unbaked brownie batter.

Let the brownies cool in their pan a bit and then dust with powdered sugar. I make sure that the brownies are completely cooled before cutting them and placing them into a large flat cookie tin with a well-fitting lid so that they stay moist until my husband finishes enjoying them. (They'll be gone in a week if I don't have too many other treats around for him to enjoy.)

Postscript: I ended up posting this before we actually tried the brownies, but I wanted to be sure to let everyone know that the brownies worked out just fine with the chocolate chips. In fact, we had a few brownies left from my last batch made with semi-sweet Bakers chocolate, and aside from the fact that the new brownies were a little more moist, we couldn't tell the difference at all in flavor. We'll definitely be using semi-sweet chips from now on, because the cost savings is significant.


USAincognito said...

I like my brownies to be gooey, not cake-like, either. :) Mmmmm...I love eating just plain brownies - aw, I just love eating chocolate! ;)

Karen said...

Me, too, Shorty! I love eating chocolate, too, though I honestly can leave these brownies alone most of the time...probably because I know that my husband likes them so much and I want to save them for him. But probably also because my favorite way to have chocolate is by itself--not in a cake or frosting or cookie, but just in a dark chocolate Hershey's Kiss. :-)

Andrea said...

To be honest, I prefer the brownie batter before it is cooked more than the cooked brownie.

USAincognito said...

Chocolate in any form is yummy! ;) lol. That is the one addiction that I have that will actually kill me one day. Technically not supposed to have anything with caffeine in it (I have a heart condition which caffeine makes my heart stop) but I find it so hard to resist chocolate!! :)

Karen said...

Thanks for the comment, Andrea. I'm going to have to visit your blog soon, too. I have to admit that I do enjoy tasting the batter when I'm making my husband's brownies. I always use a rubber scraper to get most of the batter into the pan to bake, but then it's fun to taste what I didn't scrape out. :-)

Karen said...

Oh my goodness, Shorty! Are there any caffeine-free chocolates out there? There must be, right? Manufacturers these days do so many other things that once seemed impossible. Of course, it probably wouldn't be real chocolate. Do anyone out there know of a good decaffeinated cocoa or chocolate product?