Monday, January 10, 2011

Outrageous Brownies

I do love books (they're on my list with pottery and shoes) ... but we have an interesting relationship.

And generally, when I love these books SOOOOO much, I'm very careful with them.
Please don't ask because I am aware there's a term for this.

I had someone question me whether I actually read some of the novels from high school. They looked pristine- no bent pages or smudges, and the binding had no damage.

I used to have an awful time letting a book go to be borrowed because I knew it wouldn't come back in the wonderful condition it had left me.
I never used hi-lighters in my books. It really ruined the look of them, and it seemed wrong to me to deface a book in this manner (I know, it's a little crazy).
Didn't do it in college or grad school either.

If I bought a textbook (preferably used and cheaper), it usually already had hi-lighter in it. The important points were taken care of, and I wasn't the one defacing my book.
Not that I would ever want to keep all of my college textbooks... some I couldn't have been happier to part with.

I used to be this crazy about cookbooks, and will admit to cooking from a book, but leaving it in a room adjacent to the kitchen so it was away from potential damage. You can be sure this is a very safe way to treat cookbooks. They're usually propped up with something under both sides of the cover so that the binding is protected too.

Um, sometimes I still do that. Maybe it's more frequent than occasional.
And yes, there are witnesses.
Over time, however, I have become more lenient with cookbooks on this matter.

A beautiful cookbook isn't necessarily a GOOD cookbook. They're meant to be used.
Torn pages and covers, splatters and stains, water spots from laying them in a puddle on the counter, writing, broken bindings, and even having some poor pages come unattached and fall out of the book.
It's almost book murder, it's sad, but it's meant to be.

This particular book has all of those things, and it will lay completely flat on any chosen page because of the completely shot binding.

The original recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook- which happens to be falling apart. It says that it makes 20 large brownies. However, since the sheet pan is SO big, and the brownies are SO rich and dark, I'd be more inclined to say the recipe makes roughly one million brownies.

When we make them over here, they're either for some type of event where there will be many people to eat them, or we will end up freezing many of them individually and sharing them among a few houses. For example, when I was in school, half a million ended up following me home after a weekend visit at my parents' house. True story.

They're nice either slightly warm, or at room temperature. I like the chocolate chips both soft and gooey as well as solid. Room temperature chocolate chips are fine in a cookie. I don't like them completely cold and flavorless (and with the wonderful ability to stick to teeth) in ice cream.

This post needed a bit more color.

Outrageous Brownies
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
makes one 1/2 sheet pan (roughly 18x13x1 inches)

6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 b. plus 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (however, in a pinch I have just used 2 12 oz bags before and it worked just fine)
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter
6 XL eggs
3 T instant coffee granules
2 T vanilla extract
2 1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
3 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour an 18x13 inch sheet pan.
Place 1 lb. chocolate chips, butter, and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a simmering pan of water on the stove. Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla. Stir to combine, but do not beat and incorporate air. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together (or whisk together) 1 c of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. In another bowl mix the walnuts, the remaining chocolate chips, and the last 1/4 c flour. Fold into the brownie batter, pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Bake the brownies in the preheated oven about 20 minutes. At this point open the oven and give the pan a few hard whaks against the sides of the oven to release air from between the pan and the brownies. Close the oven and continue baking for about 10 minutes. Check the brownies for doneness with a toothpick inserted near the center, and continue to bake a few minutes longer if necessary. Be careful not to overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.

Note: Cutting is much easier if they brownies have been refrigerated.


  1. Patrick and I both left our finger puppets! Man! His is the pink one and mine is the chicken beast.

    Great looking brownies. When are you going to do my spinach rice stuff on the blog?

  2. Are THESE the ones in the goody bags??? YUM! They were fantastic! Thanks so much!

  3. I know, I've been meaning to send them to you... but it hasn't happened.
    Spinach will come up one of these days...
    Yes, these are the ones!

  4. I don't believe in highlighting in books either. There are coloring books for that kind of behavior.

  5. I had these today, prepared by Natalie. As with all things chocolate - almost everything depends on the quality of the materia prima, the chocolate used to prepare the mousse, the brownies or the sauce ... Here it is also the coffee which adds to the powerful flavor. Outrageous - priceless.