sweets

double chocolate brownies

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I feel kind of lame because this is largely the recipe (well, almost) from the back of the cocoa can.  Then again, I have tried  hundreds of brownie recipes and have concluded that this is the one.  This is the recipe that  I have used for countless dinner parties, warmed with homemade ice cream, for bake sales, stacked to make a faux birthday cake, made with kids on a snowy day. The key, as in all things, is to use the very best, freshest ingredients.  Personally, I love Plugra butter, Valhrona chocolate and King Arthur flour. I also make my own vanilla "extract".* All I'm saying is use the highest quality stuff that you can get your hands on and you won't regret it.

For extra fun, I've made these at times by substituting the bittersweet chocolate for exotic flavored chocolate such as Vosges' bar with chilies and other flavors.  Try using Kahlua or Grand Marnier instead of the vanilla and match it with a complimentary chocolate flavor.  This recipe can take it and you will amaze yourself.

Brownies are a crowd pleaser.  Make a batch for your house, to give away, to put in the freezer (after they are baked/cooled/cut) and warm for a rainy day.

double chocolate brownies

2 large eggs

1/2 c sugar

1t vanilla

1/2 c melted butter

3/4 c Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa

2/3 c flour

1/4 t baking powder

1/2 t sea salt

1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350º

Prepare a baking pan with butter.  I used an 8"x9 1/2" but a 9 or 8 square would work as well.

Butter crock = pure brilliance.  I love the luxury of always having room temp butter on hand.

In your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (no whisk here because you don't want to incorporate too much air-these are meant to be dense) mix your eggs, sugar and vanilla until they are pale yellow.  Add the butter and mix.

Sift together the ground chocolate, flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix everything JUST until things come together.  Add the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using.  I just sprinkled them on top of half because sometimes you feel like a nut...

Bake until done, generally about 25-30 minutes or until your tester comes out clean.

Makes 12-16 brownies.

*Homemade Vanilla

This is one of the handiest things you can have in your pantry.  It blows away anything you can buy and it is way less expensive.

3 vanilla beans, split and scraped

1 cup (vodka, rum, whiskey)

Take a knife point and drag it along the length of the bean to split it.  I usually cut the pods in half so they fit more easily into the container.  Scrape the beans and place the "guts" and empty pods in the container. Cover with booze. Shake. Store in an airtight container in a dark place, shaking occasionally.  It will be ready to use in about a week and a half.  Whenever I use a vanilla bean in a recipe, I always toss the empty pod into my vanilla container, top with a little more booze, give it a shake.  You will have a never ending supply of vanilla deliciousness.