I'm in love...with Thomas Keller and his new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. I saw this hefty tome at the Tokyo American Club library the other day, sitting on the shelf like a wallflower, as if waiting for me to pick it up and ask it to dance. So I did, and I couldn't let go. The story of the restaurant Ad Hoc is fascinating, the photos are gorgeous, the food simple, but what I loved most about the book were the "lightbulb moments" tricks of the trade and the commentary in each recipe that we, home cooks, will no doubt find eternally useful. But before I have to return the book (I am going to buy it now!), I thought I'd try out a recipe. I decided on the brownie recipe since I had all the ingredients this time, thanks to a Kappabashi shopping spree earlier in the week. As you may know, I like to make things with whatever I have on hand and make do. That is one of the joys of cooking; no recipe is set in stone and really shouldn't be. We should all be free to tinker to our heart's content.
Warning: These brownies are rich! If you love chocolate, you'll love these brownies. Just in time for Valentine's Day. Indulge and fall in love!
Makes 28 small brownies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks (340g) unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) chocolate chunks, bittersweet (I used 66%)
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Keller uses a 9 inch silicone square mold since it prevents the edges from overcooking. If using a metal or glass baking pan, prepare it by buttering and flouring it.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir.
The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter bits and should be at room temperature.
In the bowl of stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs and sugar on medium speed about 3 minutes, or until thick and pale. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to one week at this point).
Spread the batter evenly in the pan. If using a silicone mold, place it on a baking sheet and slide it into the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out pretty clean with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Cool in the pan on the baking sheet for a bit until the brownie firms up. Transfer the mold to the wire rack to continue cooling until the brownie is just about room temperature.
Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto cutting board to cut into squares. If the brownie threatens to fall apart when attempting to remove it in one piece, cut a few bigger pieces and remove them, then cut into smaller squares. A friend tells me that a plastic knife is indispensible when cutting a moist brownie, but I didn't have one in the house!