Potluck Dinner Party, part 2

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night, y’all.  Last night.  Learned a few life lessons.  Like, stay away from moonshine, unless you enjoy losing control of your mental faculties.  For serious.  But I think alcohol deserves its own post.  I’ll get to it later.

The potluck dinner was such a good time.  Twelve people, tons of sides, and some delicious roasted meat made for a nice get-together.  I brought my “secret” slaw.  It was a hit.  Minds were blown.  True story.

But I’ve already talked about that.  This is about the other item I brought to the dinner.

Brownies.

Not box brownies, either.  These are the best freaking brownies ever.  They are fudgy, chocolatey, and rich, without being over poweringly sweet.  These are sultry, sexy brownies.  Make these for your lady (or for your man.)  They will thank you, and then become putty in your hands.  I’m not saying that these could be used to get a person out of trouble, but they certainly would earn you some brownie points. (That pun is totally, and gleefully, intended.)

I’ve added a few of my own touches to the recipe to sex it up a bit, but if you just want the straight up traditional version, omit the spices.  But I assure you, you want the spices.

And I know that this is a lot of steps and carefulness, but it’s so worth it.  This recipe does take time to do properly.  You can’t just throw it together in 15 minutes.  If you want to do that, go get boxed insta-brownies.  Lazy.

From SmittenKitchen and Baked

1 1/4 C AP flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Ancho chile powder

1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly ground black cardamom pods*

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 Tbsp quality, dark, unsweetened cocoa powder

11 oz quality dark chocolate, chopped up a bit (I like using 70%)

2 sticks (1 C) unsalted butter, cubed**

1 tsp instant espresso powder

2 C raw sugar (the kind that’s brown, but not “brown sugar”)

5 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp quality vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Get out a 9 x 13 pan.  Grease the heck out of it.  Set it aside.

Get out a medium sized bowl, and put the flour, salt, spices, and cocoa powder in it.  Mix together well, and set aside.

Put the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a large heatproof (metal, glass, or Pyrex) bowl over a small saucepan that has a little simmering water in it.  Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.  You could scorch the chocolate.  And then you would ruin the brownies.  Stir the chocolateyness until it melts and becomes silky smooth.  Turn off the heat.  Add in the sugar, and mix until combined.  Take the bowl off the saucepan.  Check the temperature of the chocolate; it should be cool enough to touch, around room temperature.  Whisk in the eggs, on at a time.  It is important for the chocolate to be cooler.  If it is too hot, you will scramble the eggs in the chocolate.  It’s gross.  And it will ruin the brownies.  Add in the vanilla.  Mix in, but not too much.  If you over mix right now, the brownies will end up more cakey and less fudgy.  You can do it, if you want cakey brownies.  You weirdo.

Now you get to fold in the flour mixture.  Be gentle.  It’s ok if there’s a little streakiness to the finished product.

Pour the batter into the greased pan.  Even out the top.  Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning it around halfway through so it cooks evenly.  You don’t need to do this if you are using a convection oven, you lucky person.

Test for doneness with a toothpick.  You want a few fudgy crumbs clinging to it.  Remove from the oven.

If you can wait for the brownies to cool, wait, and then slice.  If you can’t wait, that’s fine too.  Maybe eat a warm one with some ice cream.  Do try to share.  It won’t be easy.

*I found the whole pods at Penzeys Spices.  I used Whole Black Large Indian Cardamom Pods.  I like the smokiness.  It’s lovely.  But I did have to grind them myself, using a mini food processor and mortar-&-pestle.  Pick out the fibery bits once you have a fine powder.

**Butter is easier to cut when it’s cold.  However, it’ll take forever to melt with the chocolate if it’s freezing.  So leave it out for a bit, to get closer to room temperature.  Also, it’ll melt faster if you cut it into cubes.

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