So as an excuse to keep the oven on for a while to warm up the kitchen, I baked brownies. On a recent episode of America's Test Kitchen, the methodical Cook's Illustrated folks took on the challenge of recreating the chewiness of box-mix brownies with the super chocolateness of homemade ones. This challenge involved diagrams of molecules and a very precise ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats (29 percent : 71 percent).
To me, it just looked like a pretty good one-bowl recipe, so I gave it a shot. Unfortunately, I didn't see until after I'd begun that I was out of bread flour and sugar (I know!). The good news is that while my substitutions of all-purpose flour and brown sugar might not please Christopher Kimball, the brownies certainly did please me.
Adapted out of necessity from America's Test Kitchen
ATK's notes: For the chewiest texture, it is important to let the brownies cool thoroughly before cutting. If your baking dish is glass, cool the brownies 10 minutes, then remove them promptly from the pan (otherwise, the superior heat retention of glass can lead to overbaking). Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
My notes: These are the quantities I used to halve the recipe to make an 8-by-8-inch pan of brownies. I used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour and only a quarter cup of the sugar was white — the rest was brown. Still OK. The original recipe called for finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate, but I bought one 4-ounce bar of bittersweet chocolate to cover both.
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 teaspoons instant espresso
5 tablespoons boiling water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided (1 ounce finely chopped and 3 ounces cut into half-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp plus 1/8 tsp table salt
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a foil sling by lining the pan with two perpendicular lengths of foil long enough to extend down the sides of the pan. Grease the foil with butter.
Whisk cocoa, espresso powder and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add 1 ounce of finely chopped chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. Mixture may look curdled (but mine wasn't somehow). Add egg, yolk and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the larger pieces of bittersweet chocolate.
Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to wire rack and cool for 1.5 hours.
Using the foil overhang, lift the brownies from the pan. Set the brownies on a wire rack and let them cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.