The Most Wonderful Brownies, Evah

It’s been a chocolate-y season around here. Sometimes I think we should rename December “Chocolate,” but then what would we call February? (Maybe we should call December “Chocolate and Latkes” and call February “Chocolate and Roses.” Hmm.)

A pastry chef friend of mine gave me this recipe for brownies back when I was a student in culinary school. It immediately became my go-to recipe. Here’s why I love it:

1. It strips down the brownies to their bare essential ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs, flour, sugar. Nothing else. No salt, no leavening agents, no vanilla, no nuttin unless it’s absolutely necessary.

2. It makes a lot. Go look at half-sheet pans in a restaurant supply store if you don’t already own one, and tell me that ain’t a lot of brownies. There is no such thing as too many brownies.

3. A full pound of butter. Nuff said.

I’ve cut tiny one-biters and served them with kisses of whipped ganache and home-candied orange peel at formal catered events. I’ve cut huge pavers and served them with baseball scoops of ice cream for a summer BBQ finisher. I’ve stood over the sink at midnight eating the crusts (my favorite part) between sips of milk. This truly is a brownie for all purposes.

Recipe below the cut…18 oz dark chocolate, chopped (the better the chocolate, the better the brownies; I use Cacao Noel 64% pistoles)

1 lb butter, cut into chunks

21 oz sugar

8 large eggs

10.5 oz all-purpose flour

Grease a half-sheet pan with Crisco. Line with a parchment sheet, then grease the parchment. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine chocolate and butter in a metal bowl. Set over a pot with a small amount of water in the bottom and set the pot over low heat (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter is mostly melted; remove from heat and stir constantly until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Set aside to cool until just warm.

Combine eggs and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk blade. Beat over medium heat until the eggs are light and lemony in color. Scrape the bowl. Slowly add the cooled chocolate while running the mixer on low. Raise the speed to medium and beat until the color is even. Scrape the bowl. Add the flour and beat on low speed until mostly combined. Raise the speed to medium and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bowl and briefly run on medium speed to fully incorporate the scraped bits.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter onto the prepared half-sheet pan. Use an offset spatula (preferably one of the longer ones) to push the batter around until it’s spread into all the corners and it forms an evenly thick layer in the pan. Slap the pan on the counter a couple of times to get rid of any big air bubbles.

Set in the hot oven. After 15 minutes, peek and use a thin-bladed knife to pop any bubbles that have appeared. Continue to bake until the thin-bladed knife inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 15-20 more minutes (usually).

Remove from the oven and let cool until warm but not hot. Use the thin-bladed knife to cut around the edges of the pan and loosen the brownies. Lay a sheet of parchment on a large cutting board and turn the pan upside down to release the brownies. Immediately peel off the parchment paper that clings to the brownies. (If you let the pan cool too much to get the brownies out or to get the parchment off, warm briefly in a hot oven and try again.) Cut into a million squares and serve.

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