Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gathering Brownies

Summertime. Just the word conjures up images of hot and steamy days, fresh tomatoes and corn still warm from the garden, children chasing fireflies, and sweat dripping off of an ice cold glass of lemonade.

It is also the time for gatherings—cookouts, picnics, family reunions, Fourth of July celebrations, boat trips, etc. Friends and family coming together for companionship, relaxation, communication and fun!

This brownie recipe is perfect for just such occasions. In fact, I took it to a cookout just last Sunday and it got rave reviews from everyone there.

I found the recipe in the March/April, 2004 edition of Cooks Illustrated magazine. And as perfect as it was, I did make a couple of changes. First, the ingredients included cake flour. I use all-purpose flour because, frankly, I don’t like to have an ingredient in my pantry that I’ll only use maybe once a year, if that. Not to mention cake flour is expensive! The all-purpose variety worked just fine, thank you.

The other change I made was to ignore the step calling for the nuts to be toasted before putting them on top of the brownies to bake. Well, they toast just fine as the brownies bake, so doing it ahead of time isn’t necessary.

I also ignored the directions for lining the baking dish with foil so I could lift the entire slab of brownie out and onto a cutting board. I just coated the pan with non-stick spray and cut the squares in the pan after the brownies cooled. They came out fine, but if you want to do the foil step, feel free.

The brownies have a rich, chocolate flavor. The inside is soft and creamy, while the outside is firm and crispy. I only sprinkled nuts on half since I wasn’t sure if everyone liked them. This recipe tastes delicious just as is, but it would also be a good one to play with, adding candies, chocolate chunks, and flavorings to the batter.

Gathering Brownies
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, March/April 2004.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into pieces
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and spay a 9-x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick canola oil spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually whisk in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in the vanilla.

With a spatula, fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Continue to add in the remaining flour by thirds until smooth and no flour shows.
Pour the batter into the baking dish and spread out evenly into the corners. Sprinkle the top with the chopped nuts. Place the dish into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve.


  1. For some reason, brownies do have a way of making me think of the carefree days of my youth. I guess because it has always been promoted as a kid favorite. Your brownies here do look delicious, the perfect afternoon treat and an unforgettable classic!

  2. First off I have to say I love how you did the nuts on only half of the brownies!! I do that too!!
    And secondly... Wow! I just love everything about them!