Chatelaine magazine’s Best-ever Brownies

Chatelaine magazine tested dozens of brownie recipes to find the best one ever. In the February issue, this recipe appeared as the test-kitchen’s top choice. You can watch associate food editor Victoria Walsh make these brownies on Chatelaine’s website.

Best-ever Brownies

(Makes an 8-inch/2 L pan of brownies)

1 cup (250 mL) whole hazelnuts, skin-on, or blanched whole almonds (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
6 oz (168 g) semi-sweet chocolate (6 squares)
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Spread nuts on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Leave oven on. If using hazelnuts, wrap in a kitchen towel and let steam for 1 minute. Then rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skins. When nuts are completely cool, coarsely chop.

Coat or spray an 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish with oil. In a small bowl, using a fork, stir flour with cocoa and salt. Using a serrated knife, coarsely chop chocolate. Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl.

Microwave chocolate and butter on Medium (50% power) until almost melted, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to stir chocolate halfway through microwaving. Stir until smooth. (Or place chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and set over low heat. Stir constantly until melted.) Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then sugar and vanilla. Using a spatula, scrape in cooled chocolate mixture, then stir until evenly mixed. Gradually stir in flour mixture, just until mixed. (Overmixing toughens brownies.) Stir in nuts until evenly distributed. Spread batter in baking dish. Smooth top.

Bake until edges are firm and middle is set, 35 to 45 minutes. Don’t overbake. (A toothpick inserted in the centre may have chocolatey crumbs clinging to it.) Remove pan to a rack and cool. Cut into squares. Brownies will keep well, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.

Tips:

  • Create a richer, less-sweet flavour by using bittersweet instead of semi-sweet chocolate.
  • Spice up these brownies by adding generous pinches of ground cinnamon, nutmeg or cayenne. Stir seasoning into the flour before adding to the egg mixture.
  • Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped Skor bars, toffee bits or dried cranberries to the batter along with the nuts.

Recipe Source: Chatelaine magazine, February 2009

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