Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Thanksgiving Brownies

A week of baking prep, two hours in flight, an hour in a cab and four hours of sleep all spent for three and a half minutes of airtime. From the outside, it might seem like an investment disproportionate to the return, but remember: you’re talking to someone whomakes dessert for a living.
I spend the majority of my day working toward something that people demolish in a few quick bites after dinner. At least with a video, I can have my brown sugar, pear & pistachio cake and eat it too.
But after the weekend I’ve had, brownies seem way more doable.

It’s funny. People consider chocolate torte an elegant dessert and brownies an after school snack. But the biggest difference comes down to how you slice it. Literally. You serve a wedge of chocolate torte on a plate, but eat a square-cut brownie with your bare hands. They’re not really that different, we just perceive them that way.

So slip brownies into a round pan, bling ‘em out with emerald green pepitas and slice them into wedges and you have a dessert every bit as classy and fork-worthy as a torte, but American enough for Thanksgiving. I like baking them in cast iron, but then again I have a major obsession with cast iron on Thanksgiving. 

It has a look that feels rustic and unpretentious, yet inexplicably classy.
As written, these brownies have a gentle pumpkin pie-like spice, but give the batter a taste before pouring into the pan. You can punch it up by tweaking the nutmeg, ginger and cloves a 1/4 teaspoon at a time; be a little braver when it comes to cinnamon and adjust it by the teaspoon.

A lot of new readers came aboard over the weekend, so if you’d like to read a little more about why I write recipes in weight measurements, check out this post. The short answer: for me, it’s much faster, less messy, and more reliable. If you feel more comfortable baking with cups, you can find the converted recipe over on Garden & Gun.
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Brownies, 12 slices

4 1/2 ounces all purpose flour or hazelnut flour for gluten free3 ounces cocoa, preferably Dutch process8 ounces unsalted butter6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 3 large eggs10 ounces sugar1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1 Tablespoon vanilla extract2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ounces raw pumpkin seeds or your favorite nut
Preheat the oven to 300° and lightly grease a 10” cast iron skillet with pan spray or a touch of butter. A quiche pan, tart pan, or 10” round cake pan will all work too. With a cake pan, you might consider using a parchment round on the bottom to make the brownie easier to remove.

Sift together the flour and cocoa, then set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until hot and bubbly, then remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth.

Whip together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and spices on medium speed with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; about 5 minutes.

Shut off the mixer and pour in the butter/chocolate mixture all at once. Mix on low speed to combine, then dump in the dry ingredients and mix until the flour and cocoa disappear.
Give the batter a good stir with a rubber spatula, then pour into the prepared pan, using the back of a spoon to smooth it down.

Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for 25-30 minutes. The brownie is very dense and will retain its heat and keep cooking for quite some time (especially if using a cast iron skillet), so pull them earlier than you might otherwise. Cool completely before slicing.

If you’d like to play up the pumpkin seed theme, stir 4 ounces of pumpkin puree into the chocolate/butter mixture. These brownies will have a more matte crust and a slightlycakier texture, but not by much.

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