Delancey arrived on my doorstep not long after Freddie was born. The timing was perfect.* For one thing, Delancey is a book. I read a lot in the first weeks after babies turn up here, so I need books. I also need food, and Delancey’s got that, too, to the tune of twenty recipes tucked between chapters. Knowing Molly Wizenberg (and trusting my friends around the internet), I’d bet that many of these recipes are success stories waiting to happen. I’ll have to get back to you on that though, since for now I am stuck on the brownies.
I cannot stop making them, and that is because they are perfect. Here is the part where you ask The Question, the one that’s hung in the air after every mention of brownies since the beginning of time, and I answer with the word that, admit it, you were hoping for: FUDGY. (No disrespect to the cakey crowd. Remember these?) Of course, we cannot stop there. We know we must be careful. Because it is often in the very name of “fudgy” that so many brownies go wrong.
We’ve all stomached them: gummy, squishy, smudgy, and wet, brownies that look as though they’ve gone for a sprint around the block in 100% humidity and collapsed onto your plate at the finish. I sometimes wonder whether the trouble isn’t in the question, since what I really want – more than “fudgy;” more than “cakey” – is a brownie that is good. And the truth is that if it is good, even the fudgiest brownie falls somewhere in between.
I think that when we say “fudgy,” what we really mean is “chewy,” like these brownies here today, rich and dense enough for your teeth to leave scrape marks when you bite in. We want something satisfying in the Chocolate, Now! department in a way that even the best cakey chocolate cakes are not. Molly’s brownies have very little flour, which explains their similarity to a spot-on flourless chocolate cake, but instead of soft and mousse-y inside, they’re the slightest bit spongy. (That’s the cakey bit talking.) The recipe makes just enough batter for a shallow pour, so the resulting slab of brownies is thin, easy to slice into neat squares. A big old brownie isn’t the most sought after summertime treat, what with the dessert files in our brains flipped open to berries, crumbles, and pies. But how about one of these, straight from the fridge – how I happen to like them best – perhaps with some of those berries? Yes? I thought so.
The recipe comes together in a flash, by the way. And I say that having only ever attempted it with the enthusiastic “help” of a certain two-and-a-half-year-old and an unconscious six-week-old tied to my chest. These brownies were that same two-and-a-half-year-old’s first in all her life, the effect of which being that she is now ruined for all future brownies.
She can thank me later.
*The pure punishment of reading a book detailing the production of Brandon Pettit’s pizza an entire continent away from said pizza, while nursing a baby every hour on the hour, notwithstanding.
Adapted from Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg
I suggest greasing your pan with butter instead of oil or cooking spray. The one time I used oil instead of butter, the flavor, however mild, was distracting. As I mentioned above, I like these best cold, straight from the fridge.
1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (175 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper long enough to hang a couple of inches over two of the sides. (You’ll use the parchment to lift the brownies from the pan.) Lightly butter the paper.
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a 2½-3 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the flour and the salt. Pour into the prepared pan, then lift the pan and drop it down onto the countertop a couple of times to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (in my oven, they’re done at 28), until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, run a sharp knife around the edges between the brownies and the pan, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Pull the parchment paper to lift the brownies from the pan. Slice into 16 squares.