Brownies. Another classic American dessert that is often imitated and never duplicated. Earlier this week, I taught another American baking class at The Loaf, this time on this wonderful baked good, invented at the start of the 20th century. The brownie is traced back to the Boston Cooking School cookbook, where it evolved from what we would call a blondie (1896), to something with a bit of chocolate, to something with more chocolate and more eggs (1908). Then, things went awry in 1954 with the introduction of the first brownie mix, aka something that does not save any time.
I love gleaning cultural viewpoints from my students during these classes, whether they're on cookies or cupcakes. My question posed this week was: "What would you call a brownie in Spanish?" And the answers ranged from "bizcocho de chocolate" (chocolate cake) to "morenitos" (little brown things). Ay ama.
So of course I had to explain the brownie polemic, about those strange people who want a bar of melted chocolate with extra sugar and an egg; and about the even stranger ones who want, indeed, a piece of chocolate cake.
I fall right in the middle. I want a brownie at least two inches high. I want a brownie that has a crispy crust on top. The outside part better crunch then be chewy. The middle better be soft and slightly underbaked. I don't want any interruptions (okay, a few nuggets of dark chocolate studding the dough is okay, but NUTS? No.) That is my ideal brownie. And this is the recipe to end all recipes.
Baking time is the unsung hero of the brownie recipe. Talk about making or breaking something...I find that these are perfect to my taste at around 42-45 minutes, but you can take them out as early as 35 minutes for a brownie reminiscent of the batter from whence it came. Or leave it for up to an hour if you want something cakey. You DON'T want the knife/toothpick to come out clean.
So, here's the recipe that is truly the best classic brownie. Don't be afraid to mix vigorously...this is a key to the texture and shine of the batter and crust. You might want to add nuts, a swirl of chocolate, or pieces of dark chocolate. I don't.
Ah! Y para los que habeís venido a mi curso, aquí una receta para algo estilo 'blondie'.
the best classic brownie
email martikilpatrick at gmail dot com to inquire for recipe.