The other night you called me to ask what you should make for a dessert, and I told you about the best brownies, like ever.
Quick question before I proceed — am I falling back on the fancy salt too much these days? The thing is, it seems like all you have to do to make a good recipe great is add a pinch of fancy salt at the end. Salted chocolate chip cookies, salted brown butter rice krispie treats, salted apple pie … seriously. It’s the easiest thing to do. But maybe it’s time to “discover” a new secret ingredient. Ok, on to the brownies.
This recipe is actually called “Nicks’ Supernatural Brownies.” “Nick” is baker Nick Malgieri, of the Institute of Culinary Education. That’s not a terribly sexy resume. Not like indie-bread darling Josey “Real Last Name” Baker. Or surf-all-day, bake-bread-all-night, Chad Robertson. Or even “I’m self-taught and I bake amazing things out of my tiny East Village Kitchen” Deb Perelman.
So — What makes these brownies the best? They’re fudgy and chocolately and have bits of crunchy fancy-salt in them. They’re not one-bowl brownies, but if you can handle two bowls and a double-boiler, then you’re in business.
FUN FACT. Have you ever made homemade brownies and they didn’t come out with that crackly shiny top? There are two things you can do to avoid the dreaded Dull Brownie Top. First, find a recipe that uses chocolate chips or melted chocolate in addition to or instead of cocoa powder. Second, beat the hell outta that sugar/butter/eggs mixture. You’re creating a meringue out of the sugar and eggs that will rise to the surface and form a crackly crust.
The best brownies, like ever.
Barely adapted from Nick’s Supernatural Brownies, on Saveur.
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 fine salt
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon coarse or flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 13×9 inch pan. Line the pan with parchment, allowing a little overhang on two sides so that you can lift out the finished brownies easily. Grease the parchment.
Put about an inch of water into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Combine your chocolate pieces and butter in a medium heatproof bowl (I use stainless steel) and set the bowl over the saucepan. The bowl should fit into the saucepan snugly, but the bottom shouldn’t touch the water. Stir over low heat until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt, and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Scrape in your melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Fold in flour just until combined. Add the flaky salt and just barely fold it in. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. (I like my brownies a little underbaked.) Let cool on a rack before cutting.