Food Fridays are back, after some serious slacking in the blogging department from me, or perhaps we can just call it a RESEARCH sabbatical. Which was very productive—oh, the research I did. Thus, before we move into the realm of new recipes for 2008, let’s review a few outstanding points from 2007.
After my snide question to the universe—who has stale croissants?—my sister, married to the man who gave me the recipe for this sweet dish, provided me with two boxes of bakery fresh croissants for the express purpose of letting them go stale. And since I had plenty of other holiday things to eat, I looked at them longingly for a moment and then stuffed them in my bread drawer and let them grow stale. And made it last night. DEAR GOD. It is that good.
I did modify it a bit. I couldn’t bear the thought of using FIVE cups of cream, and I didn’t have eight ramekins, so I used Henry’s whole milk and put it all in a casserole dish, baking it for an extra ten minutes or so. I used double-strength Madagascar vanilla from Penzey’s (thanks, S, S & T!) and Guittard’s bittersweet chocolate wafers from King Arthur’s (thanks Santa!). When it is this cold out, these calories go straight to your brain to think of creative ways to survive, so don’t even worry about the calories sticking to your thighs. TRY IT!
I stand before you a humbled baker. (And like a true PR person, I’m getting out ahead of this story, breaking it on my own terms and on a Friday after the morning news cycle and during a busy news period. That’s just a little joke for my PR friends.)
A third recipe has emerged, and has possibly edged out Hank & Willie’s Triple Chocolate Brownies, according to the data I compiled from my testers at Christmas. My friend Sarah, a Bryn Mawr graduate, has shared with me the brownie recipe of one of her fellow alumnae, the late Katherine Hepburn, and darn if it isn’t good. REALLY good.
It isn’t quite as oozy and gooey as the H & W brownies—which perhaps should just get out of the brownie business and be rechristened as flourless chocolate cake and served in slender wedges with a raspberry and a sprig of mint—but the new brownie is a darn good brownie with the perfect amount of chewiness and a great papery crust. And so easy, I SWEAR, this is as easy as a mix (no melting of chocolate) and they are better. AND I hope you realize the personal growth it takes to crow about brownies OTHER THAN MY OWN.
Without further ado I present to you:
Kate Hepburn’s Brownies
Note: I skipped the nuts, because they interfere with my chocolate experience, and only baked them for 37 minutes because I was so nervous about overbaking. I recommend both.
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add sugar, flour, nuts, vanilla and salt. Pour into a greased 8×8 square pan. Bake 40 minutes. “Don’t overbake!” says the late Kate. They should be gooey. Let cool (an essential step) and cut into bars.
(Click here for the letter in the NY Times about the recipe and how it came to circulate among the unwashed masses. Best read while eating said brownies.)
And with that, we can finally move on to things that aren’t constructed solely of butter, sugar and dreams. I wouldn’t want you all to get scurvy or anything, and plus, SIGH, it is January and we ought to back off the butterfat for at least a few weeks. Next week, something SAVORY and good for you, I PROMISE.
Anna Sawin is a Connecticut-based portrait, wedding, and editorial photographer. She lives in the shoreline town of Stonington with her family and has discovered the perfect cupcake. Just ask, she is willing to share her secret.