As infants, we learn first to recognize patterns. Hungry and silent? You stay hungry. Hungry and loud? Food appears. As children, still, patterns. Draw the same squigglies on a piece of paper enough times and they one day magically grow into meaning. Words. As adults, nothing new. Patterns – bigger ones, less fun, more devastating.
There is a comfort in doing more or less the same thing over, and over again. There is something very obsession-inducing, or perhaps is itself obsession-induced, in repetition. It’s like asking if the chicken came first or if the egg came first, and in trying to answer that question we become interested in the colourful birds themselves. And though we have yet to answer the primary question, we somehow learn that not all chickens are the same, that there are subtleties that make one fatter than another, one grouchier than another, or one tastier than another.
I, am no scholar of meat birds. But these days I find myself quite immersed in the minutiae of brownies. On this blog, there is another brownie recipe, which probably claims to be all that, but I assure you, just as my fashion choices have ameliorated, so have my tastes. This, my friends, is a much better brownie.
A brownie should be dark, like my soul on mornings leading up to winter solstice, like my coffee plunging from the spout of my french press into my charcoal mug. I like when things match, it grants me repose. Therefore a brownie must be dark.
A brownie should be interesting. Darkness lacking interest is simply morbid. Everything is dying all the time. I would rather not have that be the taste I wake up to. Something, anything, a je ne sais quoi, an ah-ha, a hnnngg, an ooohh are all better than blah. I want to feel like I’m walking into a black forest littered with black currants with a small wooden house sitting squat on its fringe, billowing grey smoke from its chimney. That’s a bit romantic, but I could use a little romance in the mornings.
A brownie should make you feel things from the tip of your fork to the back of your throat. It should be a self contradiction. It should be light but fudgy. It should be tender but crisp. It should be soft but chewy. As you work your end from the edge to the center you should feel a culmination of textural progression, finishing with the moistest mouthful while remembering still the very first bite.
Follow the recipe to a tee. Thank me later. Also, shout out to Bravetart for the base recipe which I’ve Frankensteined.
It’s Complicated Brownies (makes 15 squares in a 13 by 9-inch pan)
- 225 g unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 170 g high quality dark chocolate (70% minimum), finely chopped
- 100 g extra virgin olive oil (something you would enjoy on its own)
- 6 large eggs, cold
- 2 c white sugar
- 1/2 c lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder, if they’re granular, mash them to a fine powder with the back of a spoon
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 125 g dark buckwheat flour
- 115 g dutch processed cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
- Maldon salt, to finish
- Line a 13 by 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the top rack sitting at the lower third of the oven.
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan melt the butter on medium high heat, swirling and stirring occasionally until deeply browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before adding the chocolate to avoid burning it. Stir until completely smooth. Once the mixture is just warm to the touch (not hot) whisk in the olive oil.
- Meanwhile beat the eggs, sugars, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a whisk attachment on medium high speed for at least 10 minutes or until very pale and fluffy. Seriously, don’t you skimp on this step.
- Adjust the speed to low and stream in the chocolate olive oil mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Sift together the buckwheat flour and cocoa and add to the chocolate and egg mixture.
- Switching to a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until no dry streaks of flour are visible. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is completely smooth.
- Using a spatula, fold over the mixture several times, making sure to scrape the bottom of the mixer bowl, so that the batter is even throughout.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bang it on your counter 6-10 times to get rid of any larger air bubbles.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is slightly puffed and the edges are completely set.
- Bang the hot brownie pan on the counter once immediately to hasten its collapse and allow it to cool completely before chilling it, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, lift it from the pan using the parchment paper as handles. Slice with a sharp knife (washing in hot water between each slice) into 5 x 3 = 15 squares. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of Maldon salt.
- Enjoy straight from the fridge and enjoy its change in texture as it relaxes to room temperature. Will keep in the fridge, with the pan covered with aluminum foil, for 2 weeks.
Full disclaimer, I definitely have commitment issues so don’t be offended if I come out with an even better brownie recipe in the future.