Chocolate brownies

Sunday summer afternoons are meant for lazying around, aren't they? Last summer when the heat would be unbearable to do any outside chores, my husband and I used to drive upto a nearby Starbucks adjacent to a California Mission. We would buy some coffee, snacks and then sit under the cool shade of the large ancient oak and beech trees overlooking the mission, savoring our treats and chatting mindlessly about this and that. My favorite treats were the chocolate brownie bites that Starbucks used to carry which I used to LOVE! I say used to because unfortunately atleast in the area where I live Starbucks doesn't carry them anymore. They were the best tiny indulgence ever! Just tiny enough that you won't feel guilty about eating them and oh so tasty! A perfect companion for an impromptu coffee picnic. We would get 3 brownie bites for $1 - one for each of us and the last one was guilt sharing one that both of us would try to pass on to the other but at the end we would always end up splitting it in half (which was a feat considering how tiny the bites were to begin with!).

Anyway, so coming back to the recipe, after Starbucks stopped carrying brownie bites I started looking for a good brownie recipe. My rule of thumb is to not bake anything with more than 1/2C sugar or 1/2stick of butter and definitely stay away from the ones which have both! But what the heck, rules are sometimes meant for breaking, right ;) specially for a REALLY good brownie!

After trying many brownie recipes I finally settled on this Joy of Baking recipe. The recipe is not low fat but the brownies turned out so wonderfully moist and chocolaty that every byte of it was worth the extra eliptical time in the gym :D These are not the cakey type of brownies and were not super sweet either. They were moist inside and had a flaky crust on the outside. If you have to incur the wrath of the fitness Godess then it may as well be for something totally awesome like this, right!

3/4C all purpose flour
1C white granulated sugar
1/2C chopped walnuts
1stick butter (1/2C)
5ounces dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's 70% cocoa dark chocolate)
2Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

** Use good quality chocolate. Don't use a chocolate for baking that you don't like for nibbling.
** Melt the chocolate and butter well until no lumps are remaining. Everytime you add a new ingredient to the melted choco-butter mixture, make sure to stir and mix well before adding the next one.
** Its very easy to overcook the brownies which makes them dry. After about 30mins of baking add a toothpick in the center of the brownie. If the toothpick comes out clean, the brownies are probably a bit overcooked already, remove immediately. Ideally the toothpick should come out mostly clean but with some small moist lumps of brownies stuck to it (excellent tip found from the JoB link above).
** Keep the brownies in the center of the over during baking.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. Chop chocolate into smaller pieces and cube the butter into smaller pieces. Add both to a stainless steel pot.
  3. Using a double-boiler method, melt the chocolate and the butter. (Hold the stainless steel pot with chocolate and butter over barely simmering water and stir continuously until the chocolate and the butter is melted)
  4. When both the chocolate and butter is completely melted, remove from heat.
  5. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  6. Then add cocoa powder and eggs (1 at a time; mix well after each egg has been added).
  7. Add salt, flour and walnuts. Mix well.
  8. Butter a 9" round baking pan and add the mixture to the pan.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with small moist lumps.