Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Tale of Two Brownies

To celebrate all that we had accomplished that semester (3 papers, 2 exams, and 15 books read), my pastoral care and theology class had a party during part of our last class this past Thursday. After seeing Ginger Brownies on Reservations Not Required, I thought that this party would be the perfect opportunity to make them. Ginger is one of my favorite flavors, and I liked the idea of jazzing up regular brownies with a little unexpected flavor.

But Joe always gets a little sad when I make baked goods and then whisk them away before he gets to eat his fill, and I had been eyeing a brownie recipe in a cookbook that I rediscovered on my shelf that looked like a great go-to brownie recipe, so I decided to make a batch of those and throw in some walnuts for Joe and me to have.

Both brownies turned out really well. I guess it was the recipe I was using before, but my previous brownies always looked ugly and were too fudgey for my taste. Joe preferred the pure chocolate taste in the regular brownies on a blind taste test, but I really enjoyed the ginger brownies. I was curious to see, besides the added flavors in the ginger brownies, how the different amounts of the basic ingredients affected the brownies. Using more chocolate in the classic brownies definitely made them fudgier, and they had a more pronounced chocolate feel in the mouth.

Ginger Brownies
source: Reservations Not Required
Makes 16
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over 2 sides. Butter parchment; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour batter into prepared dish. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift out, and let cool completely on rack. Cut into sixteen 2-inch squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
New Classic Brownies
source: Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies
Yields 16 brownies

8 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Melt the butter with the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a medium heatproof bowl set in a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Remove the top of the double boiler (or the bowl) from the heat. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Stir in the nuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. The surface of the brownies will look dry but a toothpick inserted in the center will still be quite gooey.

When cool, slide a knife between the pan and the brownies on the unlined sides. Lift the ends of the parchment or foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. May be stored, airtight, for 2 or 3 days.