Okay. So I was totally going to take artful photos of these brownies that I made and then share with you some delightful tale of how they came to be. But it didn’t work out. Because these brownies are a visceral experience, and I got carried away.
Ordinarily I don’t care about brownies because the only good brownies are the ones my Dad makes but he hardly ever makes them, so I forget about them most of the time. Last year someone told me to try the vegan brownies at the food co-op across the concourse from my office, and they tasted like the sadness you’d feel if someone told you your baked goods could never have butter in them ever again. I am pretty sure they contained legumes. I am pretty sure they were baked by a raging misanthropist.
There are some things that I cannot be open-minded about. Since then, I haven’t thought much about brownies.
That is, until my parents were going to come over to drop off the baby’s new crib. We were going to have lunch, which I had hoped would make their 90-minute roundtrip with a car full of huge boxes worthwhile. I made butter chicken meatballs, and that New York Times no-knead bread, and the timing of the meal – and this new thing I’m trying where I “clean as I go,” which has reduced the number of times Nick threatens divorce in a day by nearly half – made it so that I didn’t have a lot of time to invest in dessert.
Enter the recipe for these brownies. The recipe comes from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook, but I noticed a few things wrong with it, so this is an update (I fixed the cooking time, and added frosting which is something all brownies need, no exceptions).
They are a miracle of butter, chocolate, flour, and eggs, in that they almost lack structural integrity. They are chewy. Perfectly moist, even at the edges. They are rich, but the slight sourness of the cream cheese frosting makes them totally snarfable. The recipe makes sixteen; I ate nine all by myself.
You probably have everything you need to make them just sitting in your cupboards or fridge, possibly except for the maple extract, which you can swap for vanilla in a pinch. They do not contain a single legume.
- 1/2 lb. semisweet chocolate chips
- 6 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- Pinch salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. maple extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
- 1 tsp. maple extract
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ baking pan, then line it with parchment paper, which has also been lightly greased on both sides.
Using a double boiler, a glass bowl over just-simmering water, or a microwave (three rounds of 30 seconds, stirring each time), gently melt chocolate chips and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Beat the sugar, salt, and maple extract into the melted chocolate, then beat the eggs in one at a time. Add the flour and stir until just moistened; batter should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Pour batter into your prepared pan, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out mostly clean; you want a few moist crumbs to cling to the toothpick, not batter.
Let brownies rest in the pan 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, and maple extract together until smooth and spreadable. Frost cooled brownies.
Cut into 16 pieces.