Baked Sunday Mornings: The Baked Brownie

I'm going rogue again this week. I already made the Mocha Fudgesicles that are on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule for today (I thought they were a wonderfully sophisticated version of the beloved Jell-O Pudding Pops of my youth, and you can read my post about them here), so I decided to write about The Baked Brownie today. I've made this brownie countless times and I've even blogged about it several times before -- but the recipe is worthy of another post.

This brownie is famous. The recipe is from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, and the cookbook has a badge on the front cover indicating that the book "Includes the recipe for Best Brownie as rated by America's Test Kitchen on The Today Show!" Oprah declared the brownie to be one of her Favorite Things. And the brownie is also well known at my office, too. It performed exceptionally well in brownie tasteoff contest I organized during the summer of 2011 to determine which brownie recipe reigns supreme. I did all of the baking and put forth 17 different brownies for contention, divided into four separate categories. I had my colleagues taste test the brownies in each category head-to-head, with the winner of each category advancing to the tasteoff finals.

It was not surprising to me that The Baked Brownie easily won the "classic" brownie category, comprised of moderately-fudgy brownies with either no mix-ins, or nothing beyond nuts or chocolate. The Baked Brownie is also the basis for the gentlemen bakers' famous Sweet and Salty Brownie  -- it just has a layer of salted caramel in the middle and doesn't include the instant espresso powder. The Sweet and Salty Brownie won the "salty" round of the brownie tasteoff in a dominating fashion. All this is to say that The Baked Brownie -- either plain or with the salted caramel -- is a great brownie recipe.
To make the brownie, you melt dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 70% for this batch, but I have used a variety of chocolates in the past and the brownies always turn out great) with butter and instant espresso powder in a double boiler; add sugar and light brown sugar; mix in eggs and vanilla; and fold in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, and salt -- I recommend that you sift everything to avoid lumps). You pour the batter into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake. I always line the pan with parchment and chill the brownies before cutting; that way it's easy to get the brownies out of the pan and make clean slices.

I serve these brownies at room temperature and they have the most wonderful texture. They're lightly fudgy and almost creamy, delivering pure chocolate flavor without any distractions from nuts or anything else mixed in. They are the perfect vehicle for a brownie sundae, but delicious on their own. The fact that these brownies so good without the need for any bells and whistles is a testament to the quality of the recipe. Oh, and in the finals of the brownie tasteoff, the Sweet and Salty Brownie took top honors, but The Baked Brownie tied for second place (with the Recchiuti Fudgy Brownie, which was the winner from the "superfudgy" round of the tasteoff). I've empirically tested it, and this brownie is a winner.

Recipe: "The Baked Brownie" from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here from Cookstr.

Previous Posts: