I went out in the heat first thing this morning to meet my friend Nora for breakfast, and was delighted to see all the signs that summer has (temporarily) arrived in the East Village. Steam was rising from freshly-hosed pavement and the bodegas were already putting down the shades over their flower selections to protect the delicate petals from burning up in the sun. I happily flipped and flopped in a sundress all the way to Veselka.
With temperatures this high, I know I run the risk of not doing these brownies justice, which would be a tragedy. I made them weeks ago – to round out the honeycomb cannelloni that I prepared when Graig and Alice came to visit. Back then, the weather felt like winter, extended. A heavy, Sunday supper of family-style comfort foods seemed entirely appropriate.
Of course in a heat wave, nobody wants the thickest, most dense, fudgy, delectable, heavy-duty brownies that ever lived. Perhaps if I freeze them and put them on a stick you’d be interested? Or give them a spin in the ice cream maker? Quickly sear them on the grill?
But in a few days, when we are back to more natural seasonal temperatures hovering in the 40s at night, I hope that you will remember these amazing brownies. They are dangerously decadent and not for the faint of heart.
Oh, so speaking of moist, dense, and amazing, I’m soooo excited to share that my original recipe for Cheesecake Sweeties was chosen as one of six finalists in a blogger recipe contest sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission! I’m all aflutter! Check out Sara Bonisteel’s commentary of the contest on Slashfood, including a gorgeous photo of her interpretation of my recipe.
Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a 9-inch square baking pan on a baking sheet. Line the baking pan with parchment (it’s ok if it hangs over the sides).
Whisk the flour and salt together.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the butter in the bowl and top with the chopped chocolate. Stir frequently until the ingredients are just melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Add 1 cup of the sugar and whisk gently just to incorporate it, then remove the bowl from the pan of water. Stir in the vanilla and transfer the warm chocolate to a large bowl.
Put the remaining 1 cup of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl and, using a whisk, stir in the eggs. Switch to a rubber spatula and, little by little, add half of the sugar-egg mixture to the warm chocolate, stirring very gently but without stopping – you don’t want the heat of the chocolate to cook the eggs.
With the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the remaining sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until they double in volume. Using a spatula and a light touch, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture, stopping just short of blending them in completely. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter and delicately fold them in, working only until the disappear. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the top looks dry. Poke a thin knife into the center and take a peek; the brownies should only be just set and still pretty gooey. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
The brownies are fragile and best cut in the pan. Cut into 18 1 1/2×3-inch bars.