Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ooey Gooey Brownies

Brownies are usually my go to dessert when I need something quick and delicious (and chocolaty) to serve.  I usually have everything on hand to make one version or another and they are always delicious. That brings me to the question - why are brownies so darn good? I think it's the fact that there are so many ways to make them. You can have them more dense or more cakey. You can have nuts in them or chocolate chips. You can swirl peanut butter or caramel in them. Or you can even make them like s'mores and put some marshmallows and crushed graham cracker on top and brown them up. Yikes, my mouth is starting to fill with saliva.

Yes, you can buy a brownie mix at the store (my sister says Ghirardelli is the best brownie mix, and I must agree. I could eat the batter and never cook the brownies!), but why buy a boxed mix when you can make them in a flash at home. A couple of weekends ago, I went to Borders bookstore to hunt down a new cookbook or two since they are going out of business and they had everything in the store at least 25% off. Most of the cookbooks were really rummaged though and even torn, but I came across a beauty - The Williams-Sonoma Baking Cookbook. I had to have it! So many great recipes and a classic cookbook I know I will have in my collection forever.

LOVE this cookbook!

The other night, I wanted a chocolaty, warm dessert and what better to use then my new cookbook to find a recipe. Everything looked good, but then again, I didn't have the time or all the ingredients to make what I really wanted to make - chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies. Yum, right? I'm sure I'll be making those soon. After scanning page after page, I came across a brownie recipe. You can't go wrong with those! Even though the recipe did not call for a frosting (I've never had a brownie with a frosting), I thought, why not add another layer of chocolaty goodness - I had everything I needed to make a quick chocolate cream cheese frosting and top it all off with walnuts for a extra crunch. Is there such thing as too much chocolate? I don't think so!

quick line up and photo - almost forgot to take this!

butter and chocolate melting. mmm.

mixed in with the flour and eggs. ready to bake (or lick the bowl)!

ingredients for the frosting

brownies baked. they would have been good just like this with some berries on top, but I thought it needed more oomph.

frosting whipping and mixing

final product and ready to eat!

I asked Ryan which part he wanted - he said middle please!

Williams-Sonoma Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped 1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, semisweet
  chocolate chips, peanut butter chips or
  white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, preferably glass.

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Heat, stirring often, until melted, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir until just blended. Stir in the chips (if adding).

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out almost completely clean, about 25 minutes (longer if using a metal pan). Check your brownies at 20 minutes just to be safe. Do not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely and frost if desired (see recipe below).

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 stick butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened (half a package)
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk (more or less depending on how the consistency you like)

Whip butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in cocoa and mix until well blended. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and then whip until light and fluffy (about five minutes). Add milk if needed.

*Note: This makes much more frosting then what you will need for these brownies. You can cut this recipe in half or save the frosting for another recipe (or a double batch of brownies)!

These brownies are super rich and dense and probably didn't need the frosting, but it just made them that much better! We had these with berries on top, but if you didn't do the frosting, a big scoop of ice cream and berries would be perfect. What goes better with brownies then ice cream? Come on now! Just fair warning - do not eat these right before you go to bed if you want to sleep. I don't know if it's the chocolate or the fact that they are so ooey gooey rich and delicious, but I was tossing and turning all night after having a few bites. Maybe I just had a lot on my mind from work or maybe I was just dreaming of having another brownie and I didn't know it. That is possible.

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