Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Last night was the end of my feature writing class at a nearby university. The students took their final, we talked about the semester, and we ate brownies.

Martha Stewart says the espresso powder in these brownies is optional. I say it’s essential. True, you could make them without the powder and they’d still be good. But the espresso magnifies the chocolate and turns a good brownie into something unforgettable.

These are dense, almost like fudge. If you’re looking for the light and cakey variety, look elsewhere.

It’s the second time in one week that I’ve indulged in chocolatey goodness. We have one ramekin left of chocolate and red wine crema in the fridge. On the agenda for tomorrow: loading up Gabi and the jogging stroller, and hitting the trail in a big way.

Chocolate Espresso Brownies
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona
5 large eggs
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a rack in the center. Generously butter a 9×13-inch baking pan, and set aside. In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Set aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and espresso at high speed for 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add the melted-chocolate mixture and the vanilla; beat until combined. Slowly add the flour and salt; beat just until incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the chocolate chips and toasted nuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges are dry but the center is still soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into 3-inch squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Makes 1 dozen brownies

** Note: Let these cool at least 2 hours before eating. Otherwise, they’ll crumble. They’re especially good the next day as flavors have blended.


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