For years I’ve been attached to one particular brownie recipe. It never fails. And, it’s flexible.
So, it was a worthwhile experiment to try out French Chocolate Brownies for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie baking event. My one departure from the recipe was to omit the raisins. The rum part sounded good, but I just couldn’t imagine putting raisins in my brownies, or any other fruit, for that matter. It’s a sacrilege. The addition of cinnamon was fine, since the amount was so small that it didn’t really overpower the chocolate. Actually, I bit of espresso powder would enhance the overall flavor.
In comparing the two recipes, all the basic ingredients were identical and the final amount was identical, but the preparation methods were different. To be truthful, mine is so much easier and quicker. Also, my official taste tester said the brownies from my long-time recipe are better than those from the new one. It’s not that she didn’t like them, but she felt the texture and flavor wasn’t as good. Personally, I think both brownies are delicious, but I’ll have to say that the amount of effort will be the decision-maker here. My recipe is made and baked in less than half the time with equal results.
(Oh, and I really love that nice thin crusty part on top.)
French Chocolate Brownies
- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside. (Once again, I used my invaluable kitchen friend, Non-Stick Foil. No need to butter it; just place it right into the pan. Works like a dream!)
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.
Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.