Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cocoa Brownies

Summer has officially begun in Dubai. It's already reached a good high of 45°C a few days ago and seeing as it's only just a few weeks into June, it's going to get a whole lot worse in the next few months. When I was a kid, I never understood why some people would say that summer was their favorite season of the year. Living in the UAE my whole life, it just didn't make sense to me that anyone would love weather this hot; with the sun blaring its dangerously strong rays on you and the humidity levels reaching up to 80%. But when I visited other countries during the summer, I realized that it truly is a season to enjoy. With all the amazing summer fruits that you can indulge in and the relatively cooler summer nights; what's not to like? Which explains why we all run away during the hot months, but moving on!

This summer's different for me. I'm taking summer classes for the first time in all the 3 years I've been in university. I registered for evening classes and have realized how much I prefer them over morning classes. No, not because I want to sleep in! But because I get to do everything I usually don't find much time for in the evenings when I'm taking care of things at home. So, in short, it helps me stay focused and I love it. I also get to escape the wretched heat by not having to walk between classes in the sun, which is always a plus.

Now let's get to talking about these brownies. I've always loved chocolate and vanilla ice cream, there's nothing like a good two scoops of ice cream to get you through the heat. And what goes really well with vanilla ice cream other than cocoa brownies, right? Especially if you're a chocolate lover like me. I've been searching for a good recipe for brownies for months now. I tested one after the other and just kept getting results of a very cake-y brownie which isn't the type of brownie I particularly enjoy eating. The kind of brownies I want to sink my teeth into are the really gooey, soft and extra chocolate-y brownie with a crusty top. After coming across this recipe, I decided I just had to test it out because it looks so easy. And it's merciful on the dish washing too: you just need one bowl to make the batter, no fuss!

I can easily say that this has now become my go-to recipe for cocoa brownies. My family loves it and insists that I make it once every week (yeah, they're getting pretty demanding!) and my chocolate-loving friends adore them too. And yes, they go perfectly with two scoops (okay, three) of ice cream as they just melt in your mouth. They're the perfect simple brownie and I love making them. I probably shouldn't add that eating these during exam week can be quite what calms down those nerves. But I did. So yeah, you can have these if you suffer from exam week hunger pangs like I do. Just don't go overboard ;)

You can also order a batch of these from me. They're great for get-together's, parties, meetings or even just to tuck away for yourself. I happily deliver them to your doorstep! Feel free to contact me to place your orders :)

Best Cocoa Brownies from Epicurious

Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

You'll need: 

An 8-inch square baking pan


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  • Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (the double boiler method). Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
  • Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  • Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
  • Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Happy Baking!