Sometimes it just comes to you and you have to stop, and drop everything, and go get it all out on paper or the nearest writing system anything you can get your hands on.
That's what I should have done about 10 minutes ago.
It came, it hit, and instead of halting everything for the sake of the right words, I kept rinsing the bowls I just used to make brownies. Wrong move, Ellyn. Wrong move. I'm about to attempt to reproduce it all, effortlessly and naturally.
One thing, of many, I learned working at the patisserie last summer… When it comes to brownies, don't overwork it. Don't overfold. Don't overstir. Don't press too hard or spread too much or leave it alone for too long. They're a fickle and picky thing, brownies are. Their love language is most definitely NOT physical touch. They want their space and their time alone and they want you to leave them be as much as you can, even though you love them and their raw batter so dearly.
You must stop yourself from putting too much love into your brownies. It's a hard thing, I know. But when that love swells up, grab hold of it with all your might and save it for the next time you make whipped cream or yeasted bread or something with lots of force. Then, only then, will your brownies treat you in return with their kindest, gooiest, fudgiest love.
I've made these brownies only once before- today is my second try, a week later. I tried to work them even less than I did last time, since the last were not as gooey as I'd hoped they would be. And there might be an explanation for this.
Here are some things you should know… I can't make pasta without eating spoonfuls of sauce, cold or hot, along the way. It's a Hopper thing. When it comes to chocolate chips, they should always be dark and always be frozen. I like my coffee steaming and my water icy. Cereal will always and forever hold the place in my heart of favorite and most satisfying snack.
And, if you haven't already, you will come to understand that I am not a good recipe-follower. They say that in baking you should follow the recipe exactly, not tweaking anything for the sake of the science and chemistry involved. Any little detail can change the entire outcome- of flavor, of texture, of moistness-- and therefore of happiness, naturally. And maybe you should. Probably you should. But that's just what they say.
I'm a "good girl" by habit, but a rebel against the trends and the mandates and the "shoulds"on the inside. And this makes me a bad recipe-follower. I'm lax in the kitchen. Don't have butter? Coconut oil will do. No buttermilk? How about yogurt. Don't wanna buy Vermouth? Just use the Chardonnay (that's a bad one, I know). Every time I bake or cook from a recipe- it's entirely rare that I follow the ingredient or preparation method exactly.
But I'm coming to learn that that's okay, because that's my style. That's the way I always have been, and even on the days when I tell myself that I'm going to do it exactly "right," I don't. I can't! Where is the excitement in that? Where's the experimentation and the anticipation? I think one of the reasons I so love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen is because it is an adventure. When I tweak something, I'm making it my own and I'm creating something unexpected and thrilling. And I like it that way.
But you know what? It is good to be on the other side too. Neither is right. In culinary school they might tell you that there is one right way to do certain things- and certainly there is, with things like hollandaise or meringue or something. But as a style goes, neither is right. Food, cooking, culinary work, baking, kitchen anything- it's all an art. Which means that you get artistic freedom to conduct it all as you like, because you are the artist. Let no one convince you of the opposite.
That being said… Both times I have made these brownies, I've changed different things. In both batches, I've substituted coffee for the hot water, because I firmly believe that whenever a recipe based around chocolate calls for hot water, you should always use hot coffee instead. A)- It better accentuates the flavor of chocolate, and 2)- Why would you not.
The first time, I used part coconut oil and part butter, whole wheat flour instead of regular AP, and raw sugar instead of the normal granulated. I also used fewer chocolate chips (they were dark chocolate morsels, actually) because I didn't have enough. And they were great! A bit cakier, and I should have baked them for less time, but delicious and a hit nonetheless.
This time, I used part granulated sugar and part raw sugar, 1/4 tsp of almond extract instead of vanilla, because I'm out and I forgot to buy some, and 300g of normal-sized dark chocolate chips (didn't use the full amount because as we said before, frozen dark chocolate chips have to be a thing). I baked them for 25 minutes instead of the recommended 35, and I'd say that they're pretty perfect. Good density, good flavor, good gooeyness.
Regardless, here's the recipe, from my tastebuds' perspective. Enjoy your kitchen on this delightful day!
Double Chocolate Brownies
Slightly adapted from Sabrina Sue.
- 125 grams of melted butter, divided in half (or part coconut oil, or full coconut oil)
- 80g unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 120 ml super hot coffee (when using a scale, you can measure ml as grams)
- 380 grams sugar (I prefer raw, but granulated or a combo of both will work)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 155 grams flour (again, whole wheat or AP or a combo of both)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, or, if you're feeling crazy, 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 300 grams dark chocolate chips (not morsels)
Preheat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 13x9 inch pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together baking soda and cocoa. Whisk in half the melted butter, then add hot coffee and whisk until mostly smooth. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla/almond extract, and the rest of the butter all at once, then whisk again until mostly smooth.
Combine flour and salt together and add to the bowl. Fold very gently into the chocolate/butter/egg mixture, just until there are no more flour spots left. Don't overfold! Add your chocolate chips and gently fold again, until they are decently distributed. Once again, not too much love here. Watch yourself.
Pour into the pan and gently spread evenly, then bake for 25 minutes. I read once that if you want good gooey brownies, you should pull them out when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out crumbly. If it comes out perfectly clean, take them out immediately. Not ruined, but not quite gooey. For me, this was 25 minutes.
Let cool for a half hour, maybe, then cut and serve! Or serve right away. Whatever, you know how it goes.