Many of my friends know that there are a few food bloggers that I love. There are many that I read, but only two or three that I could say that no matter what recipe of theirs I try, it always yields delectable results. David Lebovitz is one of those three. I have all of his cookbooks, I read his blog with great enthusiasm, I follow him on Twitter and I am FaceBook “friends” with him. I’m a little obsessed.
I pre-ordered his cookbook two months ago and was downright giddy when it came in the mail Thursday. Friday, I dove right in and made my first recipe from Ready for Dessert, Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies. No surprise, another winner. I shared the results with several friends and many of the wait/host staff at Razoos during happy hour and everyone raved. This is the reason I bake. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, and while I like chocolate, I don’t have the lust for it that many women do. I do love the raves and the accolades I get when I share baked treats, but more than that, I love the way a delicious, homemade baked good can warm someone’s heart, turn a down day into an up, and make people feel cared for and nurtured. That, to me is better than any sweet, so it’s a win-win.
The brownie recipe that follows is amazingly decadent. It’s rich, not too sweet, moist and delicious. You can use just about any nut with it, but I have always preferred the chocolate/hazelnut combination. I hope that you’ll try it, share the results and more importantly, click on the Amazon link and pick up a copy of this cookbook and indulge in the variety of recipes ranging from ice creams to cookies, cakes and tarts, sauces and sorbets. You won’t regret it and the lucky recipients of your baked goods (even if you are the only recipient) will thank you for it.
Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies
(adapted barely from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (*I use Scharffen Berger, see note below)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts (see instructions below)
Preheat the oven to 350. Line the inside of a 9-inch square pan with buttered parchment paper (or use non-stick cooking spray).
Using a double boiler (a glass bowl placed over a pot with simmering water, making sure the water does not come in contact with the bowl), melt butter, then add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add sugar and vanilla until combined. The mixture will be a grainy consistency.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute until the batter is smooth and glossy, is slightly thickened and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Do not skip that step. Repeating: DO NOT skip that step.
Stir in the nuts and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Don’t overbake it. My batch was ready at about 27 minutes, but yours will depend on your oven (right, Valerie?). Let them cool completely in the pan before trying to lift them out. Once cool, you can use the parchment to lift them out of the pan, slice and enjoy.
Place whole hazelnuts on a small sheet pan (or cast iron skillet, if you’re me) and place into a preheated 350 degree oven. Toast for about 10 minutes, but watch them carefully. You should start to smell the scent right about the time they are ready. You don’t want to, say for example, start watching Ree, The Pioneer Woman on the View and completely forget about them. You’ll then end up with something that looks like this…
…and this, doesn’t taste good! Don’t be like me. Watch your nuts. Thankfully, I had another cup of hazelnuts lying around. I set the timer on the second toasting. See, it’s okay to make mistakes. We all do, just learn from them. That’s what smart people do.
*The Robert of Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies was one of the co-founders of Scharffenberger chocolate, so it’s only fitting to use his chocolate. Honestly, it is what I use in 90% of the recipes I have containing chocolate. I love it! Here’s proof:
Finally, here’s one last look at the brownies, all dressed up and ready to meet some of my friends for happy hour.