Friday, September 30, 2011

Decadent Brown Butter and Toasted Walnut Brownies

Brownies. Who doesn't love a good brownie? I consider brownies to be on the of the all-time classic comfort desserts, right up there with the Chocolate Chip Cookie. Everyone should have a great homemade brownie recipe in their collection and, in my opinion, this is one of the best. The secret? A full arsenal of flavor - brown butter, toasted walnuts, chunks of high-quality chocolate and espresso powder! If you have never used brown butter in your baking, you should give it a try. This technnique transforms the flavor of the butter and gives it a rich, nutty flavor. Toasting the walnuts brings out the oils and (believe it or not) makes them taste even more nutty. Chunks of chocolate? Well that's a no-brainer and the espresso powder enhances the flavor of chocolate. Whether you're a fan of fudgy, chewy or cakey brownies, this recipe will appeal to everyone. I hope you give it a try and it becomes your go-to brownie recipe.

Decadent Brown Butter and Toasted Walnut Brownies

2  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
2 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder
4 tsp water
4 large eggs chilled
1 1/2 c natural cocoa powder
2/3 c plus 2 T all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 c walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 c good quality dark chocolate, chopped (Valhrona, Guittard, Ghiradelli, Lindt are some of the best)

Preheat oven to 325 and line a 13x9" baking pan with non-stick foil or spray regular foil with non-stick cooking spray. I usually use a glass baking pan.

Combine the water and espresso powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the butter stops foaming and brown bits form at the bottom of the pan. This process could take 5-10 minutes depending upon how cold your butter was when you put it in the pan. Remove from heat and pour immediately into th cocoa powder mixture. Add water, vanilla and espresso powder and stir to blend. Allow to cool 5 min.

After 5 min, add eggs to mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Ok, here's where you get a little bit of a workout and burn calories so you can eat more brownies...Beat vigorously for 60 strokes. This will give your brownies that shiny, crackly top that's the trademark of a good brownie.

Fold in nuts and chocolate chunks. Spread into prepared pan and bake approx 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Watch your brownies carefully during the end of the baking time as all ovens are different and there is nothing worse than an underbaked or overbaked brownie.

Allow to cool completely in pan. Remove, cut and enjoy!

These brownies are best when eaten within 2 days. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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