I can say that I've spent the past week or so planning Cookie-Palooza. I used to make Christmas goodies to give to people, but fell out of the habit much the same way I fell out of the Christmas card habit. This year I'd like to change all that, and what better way than by baking 3 - 4 dozen of 10 different kinds of cookies?
It's ambitious, I know. Also slightly insane, but that's how I do things.
Today I'm having a mini-birthday to-do for the same birthday kid as last weekend because my sister couldn't make it the first time around. Since we devoured the gigantic ice cream cake days ago, today I'm making a pan of my favorite brownies: the eponymous Crisis Brownies.
I call them Crisis Brownies not because of any exotic addition of vitamin THC or anything, but because sometimes when you're in the throes of a crisis, you just need something super-chocolatey.
These brownies fit the bill.
Babs's Crisis Brownies
- ¾ cup all purpose flour, sifted
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 6 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into large, 1-T pieces
- 2 T heavy cream
- 12 oz (at least) semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup chocolate chunks (optional)
- ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 and spray an 11 x 7 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa and baking soda with a whisk to break up any clumps of cocoa.
- Bring about 1 ½ inches of water to a boil in the bottom of your double boiler; reduce heat and then in the top pan of the double boiler* heat the butter and sugar until the butter starts to melt, add the heavy cream, and then gradually add your chocolate, stirring constantly to be sure that the mixture doesn't burn. Burnt chocolate makes the angels weep.
The chocolate can be morsels, blocks or squares, and in my book, the more the better. I usually use a mixture of various semi-sweet chocolates.
*If you don't have a double boiler, you can make your own by placing a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Once the chocolate is all melted, add the vanilla extract and then remove from the heat immediately and scrape into a large bowl.
- Set this bowl inside a larger bowl which has some ice on the bottom and let the chocolate mixture cool.
Before adding the eggs, you can test the temperature of the chocolate mixture like I do, by sticking a clean finger into the mix and tasting it. You kill two birds with one stone this way because you can also test how sweet the mixture is. Win-win.
- Add the eggs, mixing well.
- Gradually stir in the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Now you can add extras like chopped nuts or, my favorite, more chocolate.
I usually use about 10-12 of some wonderful Belgian dark chocolate truffles chopped coarsely.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake 25-35 minutes until a toothpick jabbed into the center comes out clean. This recipe makes very dense, moist and fudgy brownies.
- Transfer pan to a rack to cool before cutting the brownies.
- If you serve them warm with ice cream you will thank me.
- These brownies may be a lot of work, what with the double boiler and all, but they are worth every lick of effort.
- Even made with generic store brand semi-sweet chocolate morsels, this recipe blows away any boxed mix brownies you could make; when made with more expensive baking chocolate, they will bring tears to your eyes.
- I believe that if you doubled the eggs in the recipe, you'd end up with a lighter, airier, cake-like brownie, if that's your thing. I am firmly in the dense, moist and fudge-like brownie camp, so I stick to just the 2 eggs.
Don't get me wrong, cake has its place, but when I want a brownie, I want it to be somewhere in the territory between cake and fudge.
A closer look at the deep, fudgy moistness.