Friday, August 22, 2008

Turn to Chocolate

I love it when the food theme lends itself perfectly to a musical theme. Today's theme happens to be Turn to Chocolate. Because truly, that's what I did. It was only about 80 degrees outside but I HAD TO BAKE BROWNIES. It was a bit of an obsession because I've had this bar of Green & Black's organic dark baking chocolate just waiting, sitting on the counter taunting me. Each night I would look at that bar of chocolate and want it to magically become a plate of brownies, but each night I found myself too exhausted to do anything about it.

But then there was today, a day when I went into work before dawn and finished my day shortly after lunch time, and I knew that today was the day to transform that bar of deliriously dark chocolate into something even more sublime....something I could sink my teeth into. So that when tonight rolled around, all I'd have to do was eat it, piles be damned. Tonight I needed a little comfort of the chocolate variety, and let me tell you, these brownies did the trick.

But wait! Turn to Chocolate happens to also be the name of an album by one of my favorite local bands, She Mob. And how lucky am I that I actually get to KNOW this band, and sometimes sing with them? This is a band that I like to listen to LOUD, a band that delivers catchy, heavy, funny, rocking songs. A band that I like to listen to sometimes when I'm not feeling quite right and I don't know what I need - their music just comes rushing in to comfort me in some strange way - kind of like chocolate can do.

And so, I turned to chocolate because like I said, I couldn't resist that bar of dark baking chocolate any longer, and I was happy to spend some time in the kitchen, my favorite room in the house.

I'm particularly happy about these brownies because I used more or less my own recipe, albeit one that is based upon several other recipes I've seen. I did quite a bit of adapting in order to utilize my entire bar of dark chocolate, no more, no less. It irks me that some recipes call for amounts of chocolate that don't happen to coincide with the amounts that are in the packages that I buy. For instance, this bar of chocolate was 5.3 ounces. I found various recipes that called for 8 ounces, or 3.5 ounces, but I wanted to use only the 5.3 ounces that I had on hand. So I did some adapting and this is what I came up with. Also I should caution you that these aren't the sweetest brownies you ever tasted - they are intensely chocolate-y though, and that's exactly how I like it. Most recipes that I found called for as much as 2/3 to a whole cup MORE sugar than my recipe. If crazy amounts of sugar float your boat, then go ahead and increase the sugar.

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and if you like, line the pan with parchment paper.

Set a heatproof bowl over a small pot of barely simmering water, and into the bowl, add 2 sticks unsalted butter plus 5 ounces (or 5.3 ounces as the case may be) dark baking chocolate (don't use unsweetened!). Stir occasionally until it's all melted and smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.

In another bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Then whisk into this mixture 1 1/3 cup sugar.

Now pour the liquid chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, and when it's well mixed, slowly add the flour mixture, and then finally, add 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes. At this point, the brownies will be gooey in the middle, and cakey on the outside. You can bake them for a little longer if you want them to have a more cake-like texture.

Cool the brownies completely (if you can wait that long!) on a wire rack. Cut them up and try not to eat too many before bed, unless you really don't want to sleep!

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