Friday, February 25, 2011

Brownie Bake-off: Barefoot Contessa's Outrageous Brownies

Round 3 in the Brownie Bake-off

Made the third recipe for the brownie bake-off this week, after we got back from Las Vegas.  It was fun to be back in the kitchen. 

As background -- for several months, I kept dreaming--yes, actually dreaming ---about the brownies we had at Lin's artists' picnic last summer. 

You see, if I had to pick my last meal, it would probably include a hot brownie with vanilla ice cream on top.  Or maybe Phish ice cream on top, but it would definitely be a brownie.

So, I wasn't surprised with the answer -- okay, I was a little surprised --- when I asked Gary how Cheri made such marvelous brownies.  They were decadent and amazing.  Moist and very chocolaty.  Plus they were huge.

Cheri said  --after I had to beg --(I thought that it was a family secret) ---she uses the Barefoot Contessa's recipe ---readily available online!

Aha!  I have that recipe already.  Colleen had sent it to me years ago.   But I had never made it.  Until now.

The Barefoot Contessa (a.k.a. Ina Garten) is well-known for her Outrageous Brownies recipe, which is in one of her earliest cookbooks, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, from 1999.  She says that she got the idea for them from a recipe in the SoHo Charcuterie Cookbook from 1983.

I cut the recipe in half because I didn't have enough chocolate on hand and didn't want to go to the store.  I used a 9x12 pan instead of a 12 x 18 pan.  It may have made my brownies a little dry because I didn't shorten the baking time.
My batch overflowed a little

I also made a bunch of other substitutions -- pecans instead of walnuts, bittersweet instead of semisweet
chocolate chips.  I added some cocoa powder to make up for a shortfall in chips, plus I only had espresso powder not instant coffee.  And I didn't use a double boiler, just very low heat in a saucepan. So, my batch may not have hit the mark.

Love the glossy, crackled top

Nonetheless, they were quite good. These brownies have a beautiful glossy, crackled top, which I consider important for a brownie. 

But I suspect that my taste testers will think these are a little too cakey.  And Tom keeps complaining that good brownies are NOT supposed to have nuts in them. 

Here's the full recipe --- it's not for someone watching calories!  Or their budget!

Outrageous Brownies by The Barefoot Contessa

Make 20 large brownies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 T. instant coffee granules
2 T. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet.  Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water.  Allow to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.  In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss the nuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cups of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.  It is very important to allow the batter to cool well before adding the chocolate chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.  Pour into the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large brownies.

Will let you know what the tasters think.  So far, the Bon Appetit brownies are in first place.  But not by much.  Miss Megan's Fudgy brownies were a hit, too. 


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