Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Have you ever had one of those uncontrollable chocolate cravings? The kind of wild craving that sends you scrounging through the cabinets, looking for a can of frosting and a spoon? Me, too.
For those days when nothing but serious chocolate will do, here’s a recipe for brownies that are pretty much guaranteed to bring those cravings to a screeching halt. I almost called them Croesus brownies; they’re about as rich as they can get without being gold-plated.
Grab your 9-by-13 cake pan and line it with baking parchment. Let the edges hang over the side; they’ll work as handles when it’s time to wrangle the brownies out of the pan. While the oven heats up to 350 degrees, grab a jar of maraschino cherries. Dice up about 16 of those little dudes and set them aside.
Drop an 8-ounce block of cream cheese into a large, microwave-safe glass bowl. Chop 4 ounces of unsweetened and 2 ounces of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate and throw that in the bowl, too. Zap it at 30-second intervals, stirring thoroughly each time, until it’s all melted together. You have to trust me here; it’s going to look like a seized-up chocolate mess, but there will be brownies at the end. I promise.
Add 2 cups of sugar and mash it all around. Now add 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of the “juice” from the maraschino cherries. Stir until the eggs are fully incorporated. Toss in a generous cup of flour, the diced cherries, and a big handful (about 1/2 cup, depending on your hand) of miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir it all together; it’ll be really thick and kind of uncooperative. Spread the batter in your prepared pan, making sure it gets into the corners and up to the edges.
Put the pan in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. This is the crucial step in all brownie recipes. You want them to be done, but not too done. Over-baking leads to dry, crunchy brownies. Under-baking leaves you with a runny mess. There’s a tiny window of opportunity that will give you firm, perfectly baked brownies with that “eyes rolling back in your head” fudgy quality. Check the brownies a couple of minutes before the timer goes off. Poke ‘em near the center with a toothpick; if it comes out mostly clean, they’re done.
Whisk the pan out of the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Try to contain yourself until they reach somewhere less than lava temperature; nobody likes fried lips, and hot brownies are notoriously irritable about being cut.
Once they’re a reasonable temperature, lift the brownies out of the pan using those nifty parchment handles. Cut off a corner and pour yourself a glass of milk. Huh? Yes, start with a corner. These brownies pack a chocolate punch that can be overwhelming in large doses; it’s best to get acclimated. Store the leftovers in an airtight container.