Brownie, Chocolate, Traybake

The Darkest Chocolate Brownie

“I favor the darkest chocolate brownie I can find,” said a colleague of mine when I asked her preferred baked good.

Challenge accepted.

The Darkest Chocolate Brownie

  • 6oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup cocoa*
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1¬† tsp salt

Melt 4oz of the chocolate and place the remaining 2oz in a small bowl. Set both aside.

In a pan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the cocoa and espresso powder, heating until fragrant, about a minute more.

Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and 4oz of melted chocolate. Let cool for 15 minutes. While it’s cooling, prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 for dark pans).

Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter mixture until combined and homogeneous. Fold in the flour and salt. Finally, fold in the finely chopped chocolate.

Pour into prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes until set at the edges and just barely set in the middle. Let the brownies cool in the pan. Refrigerating the brownies after they have cooled completely makes slicing easy.

For a double recipe, suitable for a 13×9 pan, I extended the bake time to 25-30 minutes, but otherwise, all of the ingredients doubled beautifully.

*I used Hershey’s Special Dark which – after a little research – I discovered, is just a Dutch process cocoa powder. Other changes that make this recipe especially dark compared with other brownie recipes:

  • Many recipes I found online use anywhere from 1 1/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups sugar for an 8×8 pan. Recipes that used only a cup tended to contain something like additional semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips. Less sugar makes for a deeper, bitter chocolate flavor.
  • Espresso powder shouldn’t be a surprise to most bakers as coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.
  • I omitted vanilla that’s typically found in every baked good recipe: if it’s not intended to taste vanilla, I tend to not use vanilla extract.
  • Bread flour, dark brown sugar, and melted butter are standard in all of my baked goods where I want a chewy texture.

lemon, Thyme, Traybake

Thyme for some Lemon Bars

I love lemon, but I think I love lemon + _____ even more.

Raspberries? Check.
Blueberries? Double Check.
Rosemary? Yep.
Thyme? Absolutely.
Lavender? YUM.

In order to change up what is already a delicious treat, I decided to incorporate thyme and lemon zest into the crust and filling. The result is a grown-up take on a classic: Thyme Lemon Bars.

Thyme Lemon Bars

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or dried lavender…)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, thyme, and lemon zest. Pulse for 5-10 seconds to combine. Add in the sliced butter and pulse until combined and holds its shape when pressed together, about 10 quick pulses should do the trick. Alternatively, you can rub the butter in with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingertips.

Press dough into prepared ban and bake until the edges just begin to turn brown, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven. While the crust is baking, make the filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried lavender)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Whisk the eggs, sugar, zest, and thyme together. Whisk in the flour and stream in the lemon juice, thinning the batter.

Pour over the still-warm crust and return to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The center should  barely jiggle while the edges should be set.

Remove the bars from the oven and let cool in the pan for one hour. If you have the time, place them in the refrigerator to cool even further and set up completely. Run a hot knife around the pan and use the parchment paper to remove the bars. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, slice, and serve.

(Thyme Lemon left; Lavender Lemon right)