February 14th is just around the corner. How do I know this? Well, cards and candy have been in the stores since after Christmas and once again, we seem to be steered towards holidays early by the retail sector. I'm not complaining because Valentine's Day is one of those special days I looked forward to because my grandparents made us our special heart-shaped iced sugar cookies and it didn't get much better than that!
This year I thought I'd add chocolate to my treats. My mother was a chocoholic and I've proudly inherited those genes. However, some of her combinations (i.e., Cheese doodles and chocolate) I have not : ) but I can certainly see why something salty and chocolaty was an obsession for her. Erin is my big chocoholic; edging Kelly out slightly, but nonetheless, they both loved to make and eat brownies. We're "nutty" brownie lovers, but certainly you can leave them out and we seem to love the fudgier brownies instead of cake-like.
This recipe, from Bon Appetit's current February issue, inspired me this morning. Under the "Cocoa Power" section are these brownies--Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. I love melting butter to a "browned" consistency for recipes; it adds a rich, nutty flavor. I first used browned butter in sugar cookies I made for Christmas one year and I love to make a browned butter sage sauce to go with my homemade gnocchi. The flavor is so enhanced by this extra process and it's what attracted me to try this recipe.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, but into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder, (spooned into the cup to measure, then leveled)
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1T unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
|I toasted the walnuts, slightly, for 5 minutes and then, just broke them with my hands.|
Position rack in the bottom third of oven: Preheat oven 325F-degrees. Line a 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. *Since I have a a springform square pan, I did not use the foil. Also, I brushed my pan with melted butter, which I'd rather use than spray.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at the bottom of the pan, stirring often--about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla, and a generous 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).
Add eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When the mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended.
Beat again, vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached). About 25 minutes. (I checked them after 20 minutes) Cool in a pan on a rack. Divide into 16 brownies.
Do Ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
These brownies are actually getting packed up and sent to Erin, Maddie and Michael. They've had a rough week with weather and colds and I thought brownies would be the perfect pick-me-up! There are more cocoa recipes to try in this issue, but this is a good start. And, I thought I'd give you a new technique to try and maybe you'll add browned butter to one of your favorite recipes to change up the flavor. Enjoy!