I shouldn't have been baking this week. Hobbling around the kitchen on my sore hip is not a wise idea, especially since I'm a shortie and use a stepstool to reach things on the higher shelves in the kitchen. That's just asking to fall and aggravate things.
My problem was that I was not only confined to the house due to doctor's orders, I was also snowed (sleeted, iced) in those days. I couldn't have gone anywhere if I wanted to. Being trapped in the house makes me want to BAKE. Cold days just beg for baked goods.
In order to bake I had to take stock of everything in the house. I couldn't drive the first day after the injury so I couldn't make it to the store. The cupboards were close to bare, so whatever I made, I would have to make due with what was available. I had butter, eggs, flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. What could I make of them?
I started thinking of cocoa brownies. It was the obvious choice, but it wasn't my favorite one. When it comes to brownies, I have always been a solid-chocolate girl. To me the best brownie texture can only come from good chocolate squares. One of my favorite ways of discrediting Alton Brown is to say that his brownie recipe uses cocoa (and takes far more time than brownies should take). Could I really make a cocoa brownie that would be moist and chewy and not cakey? (If I wanted cakey, I would make cake.)
I began scouring the Internet for recipes. There were a fair number of converts to the cocoa brownie. Plenty of bloggers and recipe authors swore, "Follow this recipe and your brownies will be as good as brownies made from melted chocolate." I was eventually convinced. I had to be since I had no other choice.
The next dilemma was deciding which recipe. Which one made the most of the ingredients I had on hand? Which one would make a brownie that was truly special?
In the end I took a risk and did what I often do when confronted with multiple recipes for one dish. I decided to simply take what I needed from each recipe and come up with something on my own.
I wanted to do something that would make the brownies just a bit more special and do something the other recipes weren't doing. I had the crazy idea of browning the butter first and also mixing white sugar with brown. That might give me a more caramelly tasting brownie. I patted myself on the back for that, especially when I was mixing up a bowl of brown butter, eggs, vanilla and brown sugar!
They weren't bad, but not quite as distinctive tasting as I had hoped. The texture was very nice. They weren't super-dense, but they were far from dry and were just a little delicate.
Brown-Butter Cocoa Brownies
10 Tbl butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with foil creating an overhang on two sides. Spray with cooking spray.
Heat butter in a small saucepan. Cook until butter melts and begins to foam up. Allow foam to subside and cook until butter is a nice dark amber color. BE CAREFUL AND DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BURN.
Sift together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat together eggs, butter, sugars, and vanilla. Combine thoroughly. Gently stir in the flour and cocao mixture and combine until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until set and toothpick in the middle is fairly clean.