all photos by William Meppem, courtesy Chronicle Books
If there were ever an excuse needed to focus on chocolate the holidays do provide! This week I was nagged by a relentless urging to make brownies, knowing full well I did not have the optimal recipe. (Can someone please explain to me why the Joy of Cooking does not have such a recipe?) Fortunately that very day I was ambling through a local shop in search of an early Christmas present for a dear friend, and lying easily within my reach on a table was the above book which called to me, and I readily responded. What chocolate lover could resist a book called Luscious Chocolate Desserts, (a Chronicle Books classic written by Lori Lonbotham, a former food editor for Gourmet)? Bought and brought home and recipe tried last night. What immediately impressed me was how easy it is! (Love easy!) Here’s the recipe. She calls them Katharine Hepburn Brownies, as apparently Ms. Hepburn was also a chocolate lover and reportedly ate a bit every day. Bravo!
Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies
1/2 cup of butter
2 ozs. unsweetened chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger, slightly sweetened; always messing with recipes.)
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs (organic, organic, please)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup of flour (!!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I used hazelnuts. Messing, messing, messing.)
You preheat your oven to 325. Butter and flour an 8″ square baking pan. (I liked that I didn’t have to “line w/ paper” which so many brownie recipes I found asked me to do. Yawn.)
Melt the butter and chocolate in a “heatproof bowl” set over a saucepan of about 1 1/2″ of nearly simmering water. Whisk ’till smooth. Remove the bowl from heat, add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and whisk together. Whisk in the flour and salt until blended. Stir in the nuts. (How easy is that? Fast! It’s a wonderful recipe to make with children during the holidays.)
OK, bake for 40 minutes. I found that to be perfect timing. Cool completely before cutting.
Here is my result:
Honestly? This took me about ten minutes to make. How long would it take me to make a mix? I have not “made a mix” in about twenty five years, at least. Using a recipe like this you know where your eggs came from, what kind of chocolate, and oil, you are using. You get my drift. And it’s so much better!
Now. Were these delicious and will I make them again? Absolutely. Is it the optimal recipe I was seeking that will be my alltime favorite forever? Not quite. So here’s what I’m proposing. A Brownie Recipe Contest. Yes. And if you would please send me your favorite recipe, I will pick, let’s say eight of them, and make the eight up and choose my favorite and announce on this blog by December 22nd. I have asked Ken, the kind man who sold me this book in his shop, to help me judge the recipes and he has agreed! Please only send tried and true recipes. Thanks. And what will I do with all the brownies? I have contacted the local Food Bank and they are delighted to be including in the packages they will be distributing Christmas week. How’s that? I think that is a splendid idea. Thank you. That will be so fun! Please feel free to post recipes below or to email them to me at joyblog [at] aol.com.
Now, back to the book. I am utterly thrilled to have the recipe for Chocolate Panna Cotta. Does this not look utterly delicious?
Readers might recall my discovering panna cotta awhile back and posting that recipe. This one calls for marscarpone cheese, so that will be fun to explore. And how about Very Chocolatey Pots de Creme, which you garnish with candied violets? Oh, yes. And Buttery Chocolate Wafers sound ever so much like Christmas to me! And how about this? Chocolate Hazelnut Spread!
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread served on toast with nectarines
Something I particularly like about Luscious Chocolate Desserts is that the end of the book focuses on sauces. Now that I have discovered the joy of that caramel frosting that I put on the applesauce cake, I’m rather interested in exploring the extra delicious touch that sauces lend to a recipe. [And I will here confess I keep wanting to dribble something wonderful over those brownies above. I do.] So the idea of adding to my dessert repertoire some Chocolate Whipped Cream, some Chocolate-Balsamic Drizzle or a Chocolate Cherry Sauce does heartily appeal at this time of year!
Enjoy this book! This might make a lovely gift for a chocolate lover on your Christmas list!
Looking forward to your brownie recipes, dearest readers!! Humbly received and gratefully made.
Love and kitchen blessings,
Footnote: Great news! Chronicle Books is sending me an extra copy of Luscious Chocolate Desserts to give to the winner of the Brownie Recipe Contest! Special thanks to publicity at Chronicle Books for being so kind!
Update: This contest has been delayed until Valentine’s Day for reasons you will hear about in an upcoming post! Thanks for your patience and participation!
Posted on November 16th, 2009 by Kathryn
Filed under: Book Notes