It has been a while since I've written up any sweets, so I turned to my cookbook collection for a bit of inspiration. I thought it might be a day for a batch of cookies, but instead I ended up focusing on a classic fudge brownie recipe from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. These fudge brownies are packed with optional add-ins including freshly ground espresso beans, toasted walnuts, and mashed extra-ripe banana. Yum.
Let me back up for a minute. I know many of you are going to find this hard to believe, but I've never cooked anything from the Moosewood Cookbook. Mollie has over 6 million books in print, so it is quite possible I'm alone in this regard. Wayne's mom gave me a copy years and years ago, it is brimming with all the recipes that have become vegetarian staples - hummus, walnut pates, ratatouille, vegetable curries, enchiladas, vegetable egg rolls, cream of broccoli soup and the like. It is the book that millions of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike have turned to over the past thirty years. This afternoon I took the plunge. Fudge brownies were the item of the day, but I have my eye on the Chilled Dill Soup for a hot day later this summer.
As far as brownies go, I wouldn't classify these brownies as dense, but they're certainly on the dense side of cakey, with a lovely, sophisticated crumb. The recipe calls for 5 eggs, so if you can imagine the way eggs impact the texture of your other baking endeavors (souffles or a quiche), you can imagine how using more or less eggs in a brownie recipe might impact its texture. This recipe seems to be on the upper end of the egg spectrum when it comes to brownies.
I love the crunch of the added walnuts, and recommend the banana-espresso addition for those of you who are looking to rid yourself of overripe bananas in something other than banana bread!
Update: 4/9/2008: If you're looking for an unimaginably dense, ultra-fudgy brownie recipe (much less cakey than these) I would encourage you to try this Amazing Black Bean Brownie recipe.
Moosewood Fudge Brownie Recipe
Heidi notes: I used 71% Valrhona chocolate. White whole wheat flour works great if you would like to substitute. I also added espresso powder, half of a large ripe banana, and about a cup of toasted walnuts (per Mollie's suggestions at the tail end of the recipe). I topped them with a sprinkling of walnuts before going in the oven as well.
Let soften: 1/2 lb. butter (don't melt it)
Melt: 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Let cool.
Cream the butter with 1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar and 5 eggs. Add 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate and 1 cup flour.
Spread into a buttered 9x13" baking pan. Bake 20-30 minutes (hs note: mine took 30) at 350 degrees.
Optional: chopped nuts, or 1 tablespoon instant coffee, or 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange or lemon rind, or 1/2 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon, or a mashed over-ripe banana, or none of the above.
Yet another option: instead of uniformly blending in the chocolate, you can marble it. Add chocolate last, after the flour is completely blended in and only partially blend in the chocolate. It looks real nice.