Monday, June 2, 2008

TWD: French Chocolate Brownies

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.

But I’m glad to have had the chance to audition a new recipe, so thanks to Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook for this week’s baking selection. For a plethora of brownies, check out the other TWD blogs.

(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.


steph- whisk/spoon said...

this was the first brownie recipe that i ever had to use a mixer or light stuff on fire for, but i liked the end result. here's to giving new things a shot even if the tried and true is sometimes better anyway!

Andrea said...

I have been attached to a betty crocker brownie recipe for years. Really easy and I figured out how to make it dairy and gluten free (friend of the family with diet restrictions). However the hybrid of fudgey cake and brownie in this recipe works for me. Same or better brownie for less effort- sounds like a no brainer to me!

Engineer Baker said...

It's hard to beat tried and true, huh? At least the crispy bits were tasty :)

Anonymous said...

I love trying new brownie recipes - I enjoyed this one, but like you, I still prefer my usual.

Bumblebutton said...

Every once in a while it is good to reaffirm what you already know!

April said...

Some recipes are just better than others! At least you did try this one out to see if you liked it. They look like some good looking brownies!

Melissa said...

I thought the cooking time was long on these...would love to see your recipe...although I do love Ina's!

Mari said...

It's always good to try a new recipe, because you never know!

Anonymous said...

I liked the crackly top, too. Crunch, crunch.

Christine said...

I keep forgetting to buy the non-stick foil. Everytime! Great job on the brownies! Love the cracked top!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but would you share this long-time recipe? I'm always on the lookout for great easy brownies! I agree with you though, it was alot of work for just brownies.

Heather B said...

Your brownies look great! I'd love to see your favorite recipe as well!

Jayne said...

Well, it's always good to try something new, even if you don't ever use the recipe again, right? At least you tried it - and they look really good.

Anonymous said...

The top of that pan of brownies looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I love your idea of adding espresso powder. I want to make these again just to add that!

Your brownies look lovely!

PheMom said...

These look great! Yum!

Jaime said...

my mom loves that new non stick foil! i have yet to try it though. your brownies look great and i'm not sure why, but my crust ended up much thicker than most others' were... sounds like you're not the only one w/a similar recipe that is easier/quicker than dorie's!

noskos said...

Job well done, they look great!

Di said...

I love non-stick foil! I always use it for brownies. The cinnamon isn't something I usually add to brownies; I think I like your espresso powder idea better.

Susie Homemaker said...

I too have a favorite brownie recipe, but was excited to try this one just in case...Now I want to try YOURS! Care to share it?

Dolores said...

I also prefer my brownies sans add-ins, but made an exception this time and added cherries. They were good -- my coworkers loved them -- but I'll still pick a no fruit/no nut brownie over those with "stuff".

Anonymous said...

Have a lot of those one-time recipes, but it's fun to try new things and sometimes you stumble onto a winner you find yourself going back to over and over! Others wind up in the "T" file, huh! :) These look good, though.