Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
For me, the key is fudginess. I think a brownie should be barely baked and make a mess all over your hands while you eat it. I found a base that delivered the goo, but I needed to add a little something special. In my kitchen, "something special" is usually sea salt. In lieu of semi-sweet chips, I chopped up a dark chocolate & sea salt Lindt bar and added it right before baking. I also sprinkled lightly with a pinch of Maldon flakes which gave these goo bombs a hint of sparkle and crunch.
Absolutely NOT over baking is crucial. I left my bake-off batch in the oven for about four minutes too long and it made all the difference. The flavor was still great, but I was disappointed that they didn't leave my coworkers with sticky, chocolate fingers. Learn from my mistake and check your brownies at 20 minutes. Everyone's oven is different, so your time may vary slightly. Stick a knife or cake tester in the center of the brownies and, when you pull it out, it should still have some batter clinging to it. You don't want a shaky center, but if the knife comes out clean, you've over baked. But, considering these take about 10 minutes to throw together, it's not a tragedy if you have to make another batch.
Fudgy Sea-Salt Brownies
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¾ cup salted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Lindt A Touch Of Sea Salt bar, dark (or your favorite salty chocolate bar), roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8x8 pan with butter. Note: these will cook faster in a metal pan than in Pyrex.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt chocolate and butter over a low heat, whisking frequently to prevent burning. Once melted and combined, remove from heat.
3. Add sugar and vanilla to the pot and whisk until well combined.
4. In a bowl, gently beat eggs (you don't want too much air in there) and fold into the brownie batter pot. Mix in flour, then finish by folding in the chocolate bar pieces. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of flakey or coarse sea salt.
5. Bake in the upper third of your oven for 20 minutes then check. When wet, crumbly batter sticks to the knife, you're done.
6. Allow to cool completely before gently cutting into gooey squares. OMG EAT ONE.
Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
I absolutely love baking and I love anything with chocolate, so this recipe that I found years ago in Food & Wine, from Babycakes, was perfect. It had all the necessary elements — chocolate, more chocolate, sugar — and, it's vegan. It's also gluten free which is doubly amazing since Celiac runs in my family (I refuse to find out if I have it, I just love bagels too much). Traditionally, this recipe is supposed to be baked in bite-sized pieces, but a few months ago I started making them as squares and I find they come out even more moist and delicious this way.
I'm not usually the competitive type, however when I found out there was a baking competition here in the office, I wanted in. I even held a taste test with various recipes during a friend's Superbowl party to be sure I was bringing my A-game. I figured a room full of semi-strangers would tell me the truth. At the end of the day, my tried-and-true recipe won out. The only difference is that I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Baking Chips, rather than the ones the recipe calls for, and I sprinkle powdered sugar on top at the end.
The end result? A gluten-free, vegan brownie that'll knock your socks off. Although I lost, it was just by ONE point. We'll see who laughs last next month, Ms. Kelsey Miller.
Reprinted with permission from Food & Wine, contributed by Erin McKenna.
Vegetable oil spray
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill gluten-free, all-purpose baking flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp xanthan gum
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (Babycakes calls for Sunspire brand organic semi-sweet chocolate chips. I use Ghirardelli's which are also dairy free)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat mini-muffin pan with vegetable oil spray. (KOD note: Use mini-muffin liners if you can find them; They give a nice shape to the end result.)
2. In a medium bowl, combine baking flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum.
3. In another bowl, whisk applesauce, oil, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Spoon batter into muffin tin (I used an 8x8 tin to make the squares), filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until set.
6. Allow brownies to cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.