Outrageous Brownies

September 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

My sister used to visit ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ in East Hampton when she lived in New York. She couldn’t bring The Barefoot Contessa to me but, some years ago, she sent me the cookbook, also entitled The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

The recipe ‘Outrageous Brownies’ was flagged for my attention. Later my sister sent the cup measurements and the chocolate chips and baking chocolate. Don’t they have chocolate in England, her husband (outraged?) wanted to know.

We did but semi-sweet chocolate chips were not available and, as far as I know, still are not.  But things are not as bad as they were in 1984 when Debbie Vogeler, an American, experienced London’s shortcomings: I couldn’t get real baking chocolate in any of the stores. But that’s how it is with everything here you know? . . . For instance the way they are in the stores. That man at the grocery was really disagreeable, as if I’d insulted him or something by saying he ought to carry unsweetened baking chocolate, and he was glad he’d never heard of it.  (Alison Lurie’s Foreign Affairs)

In England and Ireland we do not use the words ‘baking chocolate’. We tend to talk about the cocoa content of chocolate used in baking: it usually contains 70% cocoa.

The recipe for twenty outrageous brownies requires 32 ounces of chocolate for an 18 x 11 x 1 inch tin, not 2 oz as some of Delia Smith’s do for a 10 x 6 x 1 inch tin.

Those 32 ounces of chocolate become seven bars of Montezuma chocolate (54% cocoa) and two of Divine Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa). Outrageous isn’t it? (There may be two ounces left over but you do have to buy the whole bar.)

I made a quarter of the recipe. Selecting the tin size was difficult; I went for a 10 x 10 inch tin which is not a quarter of 18 x 11 but I couldn’t see a 4.5 x 3.5 inch tin working, could you?

Even a quarter of the mixture contains more chocolate than any other brownie recipe I know. These brownies are just for those occasions when you are feeling outrageous or simply outraged.


1 Pound unsalted butter

1 Pound plus 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 extra-large eggs

3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 Cups sugar [I reduce the sugar by half]

1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour [plain flour, I use wholemeal]

1 Tablespoon baking power

1 Teaspoon salt

3 Cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet [tin].

Melt the butter and 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool. Stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with a quarter cup of flour, and then add them to the chocolate batter. (If the chocolate batter is not cool the chips may melt and your brownies will be ruined, Ina warns.) Pour in the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

See The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. Do look up the metric equivalent of cup measurements. One cup of sugar weighs much heavier than one of flour.

In some brownie recipes, there is a disproportionate amount of sugar: for example, 12 ounces of sugar to four ounces of butter and chocolate. The sugar in such a quantity will form a crust which contrasts to the soft centre of the brownie. But the brownies are too sweet. Texture is an important element in any kind of cooking or baking but taste, I think, should never be sacrificed to texture.


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