The Perfect Brownies

If you’ve never had a homemade brownie served with a scoop of ice cream and some freshly picked raspberries, you just don’t know what you’re missing. I was the recipient of such a treat this past week.

Our raspberry patch has been producing nicely this summer, so we’ve had quite a few opportunities to sample the tasty red berries. They’ve been a nice addition to my morning bowl of oatmeal as well as a being a good snack. Plus, there have been enough to freeze, too.

And when Therese made a batch of tasty brownies this past week, it allowed us yet another chance to use some of them as a topping for the chocolate morsels and a bit of vanilla ice cream.

Therese’s brownies are hard to beat, but the following recipe that I came across recently looks like it might give my hers a run for its money. With a delicate, crisp crust wrapped around a gooey filling and then coated with more chocolate,, this brownie might be called perfect by some dessert aficionados.

The Perfect Brownies
½ pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ pound salted butter
5 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1½ tablespoons instant coffee
3¾ cups sugar
1½ cups plus 2½ tablespoons (7 ounces) flour
1 cup chopped walnut pieces
Line 2 9-inch square baking pans with foil, and grease the foil. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, coffee and sugar over high speed until combined and the mixture increases in volume (it will look almost like softened ice cream), 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the mixer.
Beat in the melted chocolate and butter over low speed just until combined. Add the flour and nuts and stir just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pans, dividing evenly between the 2 pans. Bake the brownies until barely set: A crust will form on top, and a toothpick inserted will be very gooey (though not wet like the batter), 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the brownies and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the brownies (still in the pans) for at least 6 hours to chill and fully set.
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk
7½ tablespoons salted butter
Prepared brownies
4 ounces white chocolate
Place the bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl.
In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk and butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and combined with the cream mixture, forming a ganache.
Remove the chilled brownies from the refrigerator, and invert the pans over a cooling rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet (the sheet will catch the excess ganache when it is poured over the brownies). Peel the foil liner away from the brownies.
Pour the ganache over the brownies, making sure it covers the tops of both batches (do not worry about the sides, as these will be trimmed when the brownies are cut).
Set the brownies aside to allow the ganache to cool and set.
Melt the white chocolate (place it in a glass container and heat it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until completely melted). Place the white chocolate in a piping bag, coronet or a sealable plastic bag (after the chocolate is added to the bag, trim one of the tips to the desired size to make a makeshift piping bag).
Streak the brownies with the white chocolate, then set them aside to give the white chocolate time to harden.
Trim the edges from the brownies, then cut the brownies into squares; each pan makes about 9 (3-inch) squares.
Yield: 18 brownies.
Approximate nutritional analysis per brownie: 574 calories, 6 grams protein, 66 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 35 grams fat (18 grams saturated), 107 milligrams cholesterol, 53 grams sugar, 162 milligrams sodium.