Brownies Via Dorie and Katharine

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but Sunday evening is most often reserved for dinner with our friends, Pat and Holly.  We head over to their house with the pretense of watching whichever HBO show we’re following at the moment – right now it’s the beautifully violent Boardwalk Empire – but we always share a meal prior to plopping ourselves down on the couch.

Most of the time, Pat and Holly provide the meal and I’ll bring dessert, but lately, I’ve been feeling like they do way too much, so I’ve volunteered to bring dinner once in a while.  I think a few weeks ago I brought over chicken to fry and this last Sunday I felt like spaghetti and meatballs – so I did that.  I love cooking for our Sunday get-togethers for a number of reasons.  I like giving the hosts the night off, I get to stretch my culinary muscles, and I get to test out my recipes on my friends.

There are some things I want to change with the spaghetti and meatballs, so I’ll reserve that for another post.  But I’ll tell you this: you really can’t go wrong with a rich tomato sauce left to simmer for an hour and meatballs taste their most delicious when seared first in a blazing hot cast-iron skillet and left to simmer along with the sauce.  YUM!

I don’t know about you all, but whenever we had spaghetti and meatballs at home, my mom would always follow up with a tasty pan of chocolaty brownies.  There must be something about Italian food – or tomatoes or something – that makes me crave chocolate within minutes of cleaning my plate of all the evidence.  Am I alone in this or do you all understand what I’m saying?

Anyway, I knew I had all the ingredients necessary to pull off a basic pan of brownies, but as usual, I was aiming for something a little different.

Not long ago, I purchased for myself a set of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks, one of which was Baking: From My Home to Yours.  I decided to see what Dorie had to offer in terms of brownies.  Sure enough, when I flipped to a page that read, “Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies” I knew those would fill my desire for different.

They were quite easy to put together, didn’t take long at all in the oven, and when we bit into them, they were perfectly chocolaty.  Just what we needed after a hearty plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  Well done, Dorie and Katharine.  Well done.

Tribute To Katharine Hepburn Brownies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours (Dorie Greenspan)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup broken or chopped pecans

Method:

Preheat oven to 325ºF.  Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Using Pam For Baking Spray, spray the bottom and sides of the pan.  Place the pan on a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.  Set aside.

Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over low heat.  When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee.  Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it.  Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time.  Next, stir in the sugars and vanilla (don’t beat anything too vigorously – you don’t want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients and nuts.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust.  Transfer pan to wire rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper, and invert onto a cutting board.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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