Servings: 16 huge or 24 large
- 8 ounces (8 squares) unsweetened chocolate
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) sweet butter
- 5 eggs (graded large or extra-large)
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1 t almond extract
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 1/2 T dry instant espresso or other powdered (not granular) instant coffee
- 3 3/4 c granulated sugar
- 1 2/3 c sifted all purpose flour
- 8 ounces (2 generous cups) walnut halves or large pieces
- Adjust rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a 9x13x2 pan with aluminum foil (note, I used a non-stick pan and skipped this step)
- Butter the foil (or pan) with soft or melted butter. The easiest way is to place a piece of butter in the pan, place the pan in the oven while it is warming, and when the butter is melted use a pastry brush to spread it all over the sides and bottom of the foil. Set the prepared pan aside.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat, or in a 4-6 cup heavy saucepan over very low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted. Stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla, almond extract, salt, dry instant coffee, and sugar on high speed for 10 minutes.
- On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed.
- Then add the flour and again beat only until mixed.
- Remove from the mixer and stir in the nuts.
- Turn into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan front to back as necessary during baking to ensure even baking.
- Cover loosely with foil for about the last half of the baking time to prevent over-browning.
- At the end of 35 minutes the cake will have a thick, crisp crust on the top, but if you insert a toothpick into the middle it will come out wet and covered with chocolate. Nevertheless it is done. Do not bake it any more.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let stand at room temperature until cool. Then cover with a rack or cookie sheet and invert. Remove the pan and foil lining. Cover with a cookie sheet and invert again, leaving cake right side up.
- The cake will be 1 1/4 inches thick. Cut into 24 large brownies or 32 large ones. (It is best to bake these the day before, they cannot be cut when they are too fresh).
- Refrigerate and serve cold.
I often make Rachael Ray’s The Best Basic Brownies and although they always garner rave reviews from my co-workers, I have been searching for something a little different for a while. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts on my bookshelf, filled with no less than ten brownie recipes!
The recipe is a bit involved, and much more time consuming than Rachael Ray’s, but the results are certainly worth the effort. I will definitely be trying the other brownies in this book later (there has already been a request for her Ginger Brownies recipe)! The author is not kidding when she says these cannot be cut fresh, so start this earlier in the day, not late at night like I did.
I baked two batches – one without nuts and one with – starting with the nutless batch 😉 The chocolate and butter take forever to melt, so start beating the other ingredients while you keep an eye on them, it will save you a lot of time in the end. I don’t have a stand mixer, so I used my hand-mixer and things turned out just fine, but you do need some sort of electric device, hand mixing this batter just won’t do. I also couldn’t find powdered (not granulated) instant coffee, so I just crushed the granulated stuff myself and it seemed to work.
A note on baking: I usually leave my pizza stone in the oven to help regulate the heat, but for this recipe I took it out. In referencing my oven thermometer throughout the baking process, the temperature fluctuated quite a bit, and next time I will be sure to leave the stone in. As you can see in the photo of the walnut brownies, the edges got a bit crisp and the top was beginning to over-brown (I also didn’t cover them with foil halfway through, this would probably be a good idea):
I allowed the nutless batch to cool in the pan while I started preparing the second batch, and then to continue to rest on a cooling rack while the walnut brownies baked. When the second batch was out of the oven I was able to cut the first batch in half, place them in ziplock bags, and transfer them to the refrigerator. The next morning I cut them into individual squares and they cut nicely and uniformly. It was so late by the time the walnut brownies came out of the oven that after I was able to remove them from the pan, I placed them in the cooled oven for the evening to rest. The next morning when I cut them, they were still too soft and crumbled a bit as they were sliced. I do recommend chilling in the refrigerator before cutting if you want them to look aesthetically pleasing.