there are certain recipes that really can only be enjoyed in season; a pumpkin pie in april would just feel wrong. an apple pie tastes best when made with freshly-picked apples on a brisk fall day. but the brownie transcends seasons. when I’m living with the terrifying uncertainty of whether my car is driving or sledding, brownies are the perfect de-stressing recipe. when the outside temperature hits 61ºF and everyone jumps to wear t-shirts (when 61º really isn’t that warm) brownies are there to stick to spring-chilled bones.
the first time I made these brownies, the mid-atlantic had just been hit with an aggressive daytime snowstorm. for days afterwards, the backroads were reduced to paths of packed snow, more fit for horse-drawn sleighs than for cars.
the second time I made these brownies, less than a week later, the snow had melted to reveal destroyed roads littered with deep potholes that force realignment of your car frame (and your spine) every time you hit one.
with quintessential british understatment, nigel slater describes his brownies as “very good.” these are beyond “very good;” they are dense and fudgy without being mushy, structured without being cakey, and somehow achieve the elusive crisp crackly top. they are so good, I made them twice in two weeks, partially because my coworkers incessantly demanded it, but also because they really are just that good.
makes one 8•8-in pan
8.8 oz (250g) chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (60g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
nigel slater. the kitchen diaries. london: fourth estate, 2005.
2 in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter until white and fluffy.
3 break chocolate into pieces, set 50g aside and melt the remaining 200g in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. as soon as the chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat. chop remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.
4 break eggs into small bowl and beat lightly. sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. with the stand mixer on low, add the eggs slowly. remove bowl from mixer and using a spatula, mix in melted and chopped chocolate. gently fold in flour cocoa mixture without knocking any air out.
5 scrape mixture into prepared cake tin, smooth top, and lightly scatter a little large-flaked kosher salt on top. bake for 30-33 minutes, until the top has risen slightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out sticky but without raw mixture attached to it. leave to cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares.