Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the “baked” brownies – spiced-up

the most amazing bite

There is a reason that this post is devoid of any great shots of stacks of brownies or brownies on a plate with a glass of milk. I had a bit of a photography snafu with these at I’m entirely at fault here. You see, when you cook in a small, counter-deficient kitchen and you lack grace (my friends know I do), things sometimes fall, often making a mess, often changing their intended shape from the impact of the fall. Sometimes, I have to make a new batch of that something it winds up in a pile of crumbs all over my kitchen floor. A freshly washed kitchen floor, mind you.

spicy browniesspicy brownies

And so with such fabulous coordination such as mine, I was about to take pictures of these brownies perfectly cut in carefully measured (with a ruler!) squares, when I turned to grab my camera and heard a loud crash. And as luck would have it, I had no time to make a second batch of these, and was dashing out to cook more food at a Super Bowl party Paul and Sharon (my newly engaged, cake-decorating-kit-giving friends) were hosting. I looked down to where the baking dish had fallen and was both relieved and aghast – the brownies, magically fallen in such a way that nothing, but a few loose crumbs fell out onto the floor. Everything was still inside the baking dish. But. Oh, but of course there’s a “but”. The perfect squares were no more. Instead, they were erratic shapes of brownies looking like random displaced countries cut out from a map.

At this point, I had to make do with what I had. I packed them as best as I could and took them with me to Brooklyn. They were dubbed as the world’s best tasting ugliest brownies. And you know what? We loved them just fine.

spicy brownies

Now, a word about these brownies. These are from the Baked cookbook I’ve made the peanut butter chocolate bars from and the Sweet and Salty Cake, and no, the Baked folks aren’t asking me to sing their cookbook praises, but I can’t help myself. First, the cookbook is excellent and features recipes I’m itching to make. And secondly, I don’t have that many dessert cookbooks, or cook books to begin with, at this point in time. And finally, I’ve had such luck with recipes in this book, I’m itching to try a dozen others!

But these brownies are serious business – deep, dark, bitter chocolate is a fantastic thing in and of itself. But if you add a little heat to it, I think the chocolate flavor becomes more complex and lingers on your palate longer. It elevates the brownie to a very sophisticated treat and while I’m always an advocate for presentation – you’ll love them no matter what they look like!

spicy brownies

Baked Brownies
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika
11 oz dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

2. In a medium bow, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa powder, cayenne and paprika together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage of your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture of the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

7. Tightly covered with plastic wrap the brownies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. [good luck keeping them that long]

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  • 1
    Don said:

    OMG, those brownies look delish! My better half has an allergy to chocolate so I’ve been going without a chocolate fix for a while…That little bit of cayenne must be heavenly!!! Drooling…

    March 25, 2009 4:18 pm
  • 2

    Oh how wonderful! I love spicey chocolate…so luxurious.

    March 25, 2009 4:25 pm
  • 3

    Oooh…I was expecting cayenne, but smoked paprika?!? how interesting? Do they taste smokey?

    March 25, 2009 4:28 pm
  • 4

    Oooh…I was expecting cayenne, but smoked paprika?!? how interesting? Do they taste smokey?

    March 25, 2009 4:28 pm
  • 5
    Adrienne said:

    I know it wasn’t your intention, but you may have just convinced me to buy Baked, make brownies, and drop them on the floor. Which segues nicely into that old Mitch Hedburg bit: “I think candy from vending machines tastes better. In fact, sometimes when I buy a candy bar at the store, I drop it on the floor so it can achieve its full flavor potential.” Anyway they look GREAT!

    March 25, 2009 4:29 pm
  • 6

    I meant how interesting (exclamation point.)

    March 25, 2009 4:29 pm
  • 7

    I meant how interesting (exclamation point.)

    March 25, 2009 4:29 pm
  • 8
    radish said:

    Maggie – there’s a tiny bit of smokiness, it is so good.

    March 25, 2009 4:29 pm
  • 9
    radish said:

    ooh Adrienne, i highly recommend the book – it’s so beautifully put together!

    March 25, 2009 4:33 pm
  • 10

    Ooh ooh ooh I love chili and chocolate together. Sorry to hear about the brownie tumble, but glad they came out ok. That little morsel looks amazing!

    March 25, 2009 6:44 pm
  • 11
    Sarah said:

    Ahhh! I’m a brownie addict!! I can’t wait to find time to make these!

    March 25, 2009 6:48 pm
  • 12
    Sophie said:

    Wow! they look fantasticly yummie :)!!! MMMMMM….

    March 26, 2009 7:33 am
  • 13

    Perfection is overrated.

    March 26, 2009 11:37 am
  • 14
    Kate Nolan said:

    I think it’s finally time to buy Baked. I’ve seen too many raves to ignore it any longer!

    March 26, 2009 12:34 pm
  • 15
    Kasey said:

    I think those Baked folks have a conspiracy for making us all fat. Smoked Paprika is my secret ingredient for nearly everything–who knew it would kick up brownies! I am excited to broaden my horizons.

    March 26, 2009 1:55 pm
  • 16

    These look so delicious! And I’m a total klutz so I can relate to your fallen brownies.

    March 26, 2009 10:52 pm
  • 17
    Irene said:

    I’ve been drooling over the idea of these brownies for a long time! Even this little bite looks so luscious and chocolaty, yum!

    March 27, 2009 12:56 am
  • 18
    maris said:

    I’ve never met a brownie that I didn’t like – perfect squares or not, these look amazing!

    March 27, 2009 11:54 pm
  • 19
    codfish said:

    Oo, I’m intrigued. A whole teaspoon of smoked paprika? Sounds amazing.
    And ugly brownie are almost better than pretty ones. More authentically homemade or something… :)

    March 30, 2009 10:33 am
  • 20

    just love the Baked cookbook and can’t wait to make my way through the entire thing – haven’t tried these yet but they sound delicious!

    March 31, 2009 12:40 am
  • 21
    radish said:

    I know! I want to make EVERYTHING in that book! :) These are my favorite brownies YET :-)

    March 31, 2009 7:07 am
  • 22

    I’ll take a brownie any day, no matter the shape or size. Bravo for rolling with the flow.

    March 31, 2009 9:15 am
  • 23
    Ulla said:

    Love that you are doing all this baking. I have been having a sweet tooth lately which is a bit out of character.
    I am going to have to make these. And your photos are so gorgeous!

    March 31, 2009 10:02 am
  • 24
    radish said:

    Ulla, thank you! My sweet tooth is also elevated – maybe it’s because we’re in a recession and seek comforting things?

    March 31, 2009 4:09 pm
  • 25
    Chilli said:

    So I look at this website and see this wonderful brownie recipe. I’m cursing the fact that I’ve run out of all-purpose flour (or any baking-worthy flour for that matter) :(. Can’t wait to try this recipe!!

    April 1, 2009 10:47 pm
  • 26
    Kristin said:

    I made these two weeks ago…they are all that and then some! The second time I made them, I added a layer of creme de menthe and a ganache layer! So, many ways to spice them up!!

    April 4, 2009 9:11 am
  • 27
    Lauren said:

    These are quite possibly the best brownies I’ve ever had. Serve them warm with vanilla ice cream and mango slices. You’ll be transported to a magical place. Also, I usually cut down on the sugar called for, but I didn’t with these and they were awesome–not too sweet. Thanks, Ms. Radish!

    April 17, 2009 8:12 pm