Life is Sweet
There are hundreds of brownie recipes – even whole cookbooks are devoted to brownies. Given the proliferation, you’d think at least some of them would be disappointing. But, I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like. I collect recipe after recipe, and enjoy baking and eating all of them. They are a good pastry to make at high altitude, for most brownie recipes call for little or no chemical leavening and, if properly cooked, remain moist in spite of our dry climate. The one featured in this column is one of my family’s favorites. However, before publishing it, I thought I better get a second opinion. Truth be known, there are members of my family who will eat almost anything. So, I offered some to Sally Fry, who staffs the Frisco Nordic Center and teaches cross country skiing there. She describes it as a thin, dense brownie with a delicious and sophisticated flavor that tastes a lot like a cappuccino. Sally also reported that, after eating several, she skate-skied better than she ever had before. Now, that intrigued me. Could these brownies be more than just good tasting?Could they actually enhance performance? While I doubt they have steroid-like qualities, bake these for any professional baseball players you know and let me know what happens!
This recipe is an adaptation of one I found several years ago in “The Four-Sided Cookie” by Lorraine Bodger, a delightful little cookbook that is in the Summit County Library System. Sally’s Ski-Fast Cappuccino BrowniesBrownie Ingredients3/4 cup flour (spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off)1/4 teaspoon salt6 ounces good semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (Hershey’s Special Dark and Ghirardelli are both available in our grocery stores in Summit County)9 tablespoons of unsalted butter2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 (one) tablespoon of boiling water1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar3 eggs1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the center position.Chop the chocolate into chunks about 1/4-inch square. If you have a serrated knife, use it to chop chocolate.Melt the butter and the chopped chocolate in a medium or large bowl. I do it in the microwave because it is faster:Stir the dissolved coffee into the chocolate mixture and, if it is hot, let it cool to warm. Whisk in the sugar, then the vanilla, then the eggs, one egg at a time. In a small bowl, stir the salt into the four. Add this mixture to that in the larger bowl and stir gently only until it is mixed and no flour is visible. Don’t overmix it.Spread the batter into the pan, spreading and leveling it as necessary.Bake for approximately 25-29 minutes. Check at about 20 minutes; if the sides of the cake have risen higher than the middle, use the back of a soup spoon or a small spatula to gently, gently, press them down until the cake is level. When done, the top should look dry and may be cracked and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out almost clean. You don’t want these to get too dry; they are at their best when the batter is just set through.Cool completely on a rack. Then make the glaze.
1/4 cup of heavy cream1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted1 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugarA pinch of salt1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/4 cup of cocoa (more or less) for dusting the top of the glaze1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixed into the cocoa (optional)Stir the melted butter, vanilla and cream together. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the salt and beat for about 4 minutes so that the sugar dissolves and the glaze becomes creamy. Adjust by adding more sugar or more cream, if necessary, until the glaze is easy to spread.Spread the glaze evenly on the cooled cake. Sift the cocoa and cinnamon, (if you are using it) through a strainer over the glaze.Cover and refrigerate the pan, making sure the pan covering doesn’t touch the glaze. These cut most easily after about 5 hours in the refrigerator. Lift the cake from the pan using the foil liner. Wipe your knife between cuts to keep the edges clean and straight. When I’m using these on a dessert tray, I cut them into small squares and serve them in paper cups. But, they are good any way you present them. They keep for days in the refrigerator and also freeze quite well.Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day.
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