Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Let me eat brownies

The week after we moved into the new place, we had some friends over for a housewarming/my birthday party. We had the grill going on the terrace, which has a pretty great view of the neighborhood. Oh, you guys are right by the Bhering factory, one friend (who is way cooler than we are) said immediately. He explained that the abandoned factory has now been turned into an artist colony and that it's become quite well known within the Brazilian art scene. 

Bhering is a chocolate company. I know because it's the brand of cocoa powder I buy to make brownies. And although you can't tell in the picture, the red ball on the right atop the clock says BHERING, like the logo on the cocoa box.

Yep, cocoa powder brownies. I always used to use bar chocolate, a lot of it, when I made brownies. For many years I used Ruth Reichl's brownie recipe, which is pretty damn solid but requires you to beat the eggs for 10 minutes. The reason I switched to brownies made with cocoa powder, though, has nothing to do with my arm hating me and everything to do with texture. I know there are some people who like "cakey" brownies, but I can't say I really understand their preference. Like, at all...why wouldn't you just eat chocolate cake? Which is my way of saying that I want my brownies to be fudgy and chewy,  and as it turns out, using cocoa powder in brownies does just that, and it does it consistently. Whereas many brownie recipes that call for bar chocolate produce a batter with a fine line between goo and overdone, this recipe produces a batter with far more wiggle room and, in my humble opinion, better results. Actually, I should definitely mention that it's not just in my humble opinion-- the original recipe here is from Alice Medrich, a trustworthy source in all things chocolate if there ever was one. I've tweaked the recipe after making it so many times, but the basic blueprint is all her.

Every time I have brought these to a party people go crazy and they disappear in under 5 minutes (and then ask for the recipe). Which brings me to a big pet peeve of mine which I've ranted about before around here: Do not tell me you don't like American food. You just haven't had a decent version of it, I wish McDonald's hadn't taken over the world and sullied our name. And also, don't tell me you don't like American food especially when you WILLINGLY both go to McDonald's and pay outrageous prices for horrible versions of brownies and burgers at "American food" places in Rio. Not my fault. Also, ::cough::, the owners of those places are South American, no American would ever make a chocolate chip cookie with 5 chocolate chips placed on top of the dough (and none actually mixed in). Rant over! Go make some brownies.

News: Below the English and Spanish, my first recipe in Portuguese! I don't imagine it will become a habit quite yet, in this case someone asked for the recipe at a party recently, so the gauntlet was thrown (and a friend of mine helped proofread).

Brownies (with Dulce de Leche)
     adapted from Alice Medrich

5 oz. (140 g. or 10 Tbsp.) butter, salted or unsalted
8.8 oz. (250 g.) white sugar                                                                                 
2.8 oz. (80 g.) unsweetened cocoa powder (non-Dutch process)
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
2 Tbsp. extra strong coffee (recently made)
2 eggs
2.3 oz. (66 g.) all-purpose flour
optional: dulce de leche, walnuts, pecans*

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8 in. x 8 in. square pan with parchment paper.
Combine the butter, sugar and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until the butter has completely melted and everything is well combined. Remove the bowl from the stove and add in the salt, vanilla and coffee, stirring well, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well until the batter is thick and shiny. Add in the flour and mix well. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes (take them out when they are still a little bit wet if you stick a knife in but the top is dry and matte). Let the brownies cool before cutting.

*For dulce de leche, once the batter is in the pan, add small dollops of dulce de leche on top, leaving space between the dollops. Pass a knife though the batter so that it drags the dulce de leche into the chocolate (make sure that the knife doesn't touch the bottom of the pan so you don't cut into the parchment paper). For nuts and pecans, lightly toast them in the oven first, then stir them into the batter once everything else is mixed together but before transferring the batter into the pan.

     adaptada de Alice Medrich

140 g. de mantequilla 
250 g. de azúcar blanca                                                                                      
80 g. de cacao en polvo (sin azúcar)
una pizca de sal
1/2 cucharita de extracto de vainilla natural (o las semillas de la mitad de una vaina)
2 cucharadas de cafe fuerte, recién hecho
2 huevos
66 g. de harina
opcional: dulce de leche, nueces, pecanes*

Horno a 160°C. Molde cuadrado de 20×20-cm (aunque honestamente yo normalmente uso un sarten redondo de hierro fundido con diametro de 25 menos bonito, pero es lo que hay) con papel aluminio o papel de horno.
En un bol grande y calor-resistente, derrita la mantequilla, azúcar y chocolate con baño maria, revolviendo hasta que la mezcla esté uniforme. Quita el bol del baño maria y agrega la sal, vainilla y cafe a la mezcla, revolviendo bien. Fijate que la mezcla no está muy caliente (no debería estar, pero si lo es, dejala enfriar un par de minutos-- vas a agregar los huevos y no quieres que se vuelvan huevos revueltos), y agrega los huevos uno a la vez, batiendo bien después de cada adición hasta que la mezcla quede espesa y brilliante. Echale la harina y mezcla bien, fijando que no queda blanco. Echa la masa al molde, dispersando la superficie para que quede en una capa uniforme de grueso (igual en general va a disperciar sola con el calor del horno entonces no te preocupes mucho por eso). Hornea durante 20-30 minutos, cuando están listos los brownies van a tener la superficie seca pero fijate que los sacas cuando todavía están un poco mojados si los metes un cuchillo. Dejalos enfriar antes de cortar.

*Para dulce de leche, después de haber colocado la masa en el molde, echale cucharitas dispersas de dulce de leche encima y pasa un cuchillo por la masa para mezclarla (ten cuidado para no tocar el fondo del molde con el cuchillo). Para las nueces y los pecanes, echales a la masa, mezclando bien, justo antes de echar la masa al molde.


140 g. de manteiga
250 g. de açúcar                                                                                               
80 g. de chocolate em pó (sem açucar) 
uma pitada de sal
1/2 colher de chá de extrato de baunilha natural (ou as sementes de a metade de uma vagem)
2 colheres de sopa de café recém feito
2 ovos
66 g. de farinha
opcional: doce de leite, nozes, pecanes*

Forno a 160ºC. Tabuleiro de 20×20-cm com papel aluminio ou papel manteiga.
Manteiga, açucar e chocolate no banho maria. Tirar do banho maria e adicionar o sal, baunilha e cafe, bater bem, adicionar os ovos um de cada vez, batendo bem até que a mistura fique espesa e brillante. Adicionar a farinha, bater bem. Despejar a mistura na forma.  Levar a forno por 20-30 minutos (tirá-los quando ainda estivierem un pouco molhados). Deixá-los esfriar antes de cortar.

*Para doce de leite, adicionar pequenas doses separadas de doce de leite cuando a mistura ja estivier na forma e passar uma faca pela massa para misturar um pouco  (não toques o fundo com a faca). Para as nozes os pecanes, adicionar e misturar antes de despejar a mistura na forma.

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