Decadently Bittersweet Cake Brownies

As much as my fingers are itching to type novels about all of the more savory dishes I've been enjoying over the past several months, and as sick as many of you probably are of sweets (c'est possible??), I promised you brownies, and brownies you shall get. So to speak, that is - The Goods will remain in my freezer, waiting patiently for the perfect night to arrive for their date with vanilla ice cream. I even marched down to my freezer, pulled a few out and had a photo shoot session with them on my kitchen table when I realized this morning I had, once again, forgotten to snap their beautiful little mugs before devouring the majority of them - that is how determined I was to give all of you your just desserts: chocolately, gratifying squares of decadence, just shy of sheer perfection.

You see, I'm very particular about my brownies. Brownies and chocolate cake need to be done very well. It isn't that I find no pleasure in even the sorriest of brownies and other chocolate confections because, let's be real, I am female; however, chocolate makes me weak in the knees, and so I refuse to stop until the God of Brownie Recipes is unearthed. This recipe, it's no Lord Almighty, but it's still good. Satisfying. Rich and delicate, with an extremely subtle and downplayed sweetness cutting into it in perfect harmony with the occasional crunch from a lingering chocolate chip. Really, this recipe is spot-on...if you like cakey brownies, that is. Which, as I mentioned before about the whole loving all things chocolate, I do, but they're not what really does it for me. What really does it for me is the dense, fudgey, barely-uses-any-flour-at-all recipe that, when eaten chilled, is more akin to a softer form of pure chocolate than to the baked goods family. You see, I know what I want in a brownie, and while these may be the be-all-and-end-all for someone else - and many, many people who tried these could not stop raving - I will continue on in my search for The One.

All of that being said, there happens to be vanilla ice cream in my freezer right now and dinner is the only thing standing between me and an a la mode dessert that is enough to make a girl very, very happy.

Decadently Bittersweet Cake Brownies, courtesy of Healthy and Gourmet
Yield: 15 - 20 (I 1.5x the recipe and got 28 decently sized squares)

The Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup low fat evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (I only had semi-sweet, so I used those)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (omitted*)

The Method
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a 9x9 inch square pan; in 1.5x the recipe, I used one 9x9 and one 8x8 and am pretty happy with the results.

Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In another medium bowl, stir together the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla; set this aside, too. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, gently melt 2/3 of the chocolate chips (1 cup) into the evaporated milk. Once all of the chips have melted, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cool, whisk in first the sugar mixture, then the flour mixture, until just incorporated. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate as well as the nuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, place in the oven, and bake for approximately 30 minutes. In contrast to how you would test a cake for doneness, a toothpick inserted into these brownies after 30 minutes will, apparently, not come out clean. After reading this, I didn't bother wasting a toothpick, and just trusted my oven, the recipe, and the notion that slightly undercooked desserts are not nearly as disasterous as slightly overcooked ones. I mean, that batter is the best part anyway, right? So, pull them out at 30 minutes with all the faith in the world, cool them for at least 10 minutes, and then slice 'em into squares and serve them warm, cool, or - if you're completely normal like me - just a tad bit frozen (okay, maybe save that for the fudgier ones). Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge are totally optional, but highly recommended.

*One day, I will make desserts with nuts in them, but it makes it much more complicated for sharing. Although, being forced to eat a couple of extra brownies or a slightly larger piece of cake is not the biggest grievance I've had to undertake.


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