Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Football, Friends and Brownies.

My husband is a big football fan. I'm not (and that's an understatement). To keep my sanity, while feeding his football frenzy, it has been his custom over the last few years to meet up with friends every Sunday to watch the games. I'm happy being football-free, and he's happy to hang with the guys.

Apparently this week was a big deal - playoffs or something. :) So instead of the guys hanging at the bar they usually choose for football viewing pleasure, they went to one of the guys' apartments. Less distractions, you see. And so M. asked me to bake something. It's rare he requests a baked treat, so I allowed him to pick from several recipes that didn't involve more than a quick trip to the store. He chose this recipe for Double-Decker Chocolate-Chip Brownies from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. I haven't made much from the cookbook, so I was happy to comply. The one recipe I did try looked good, but ended up tossed due to my error (undercooking). So, I was eager to try again.

The one thing that is unique about the recipes in the Weekend Baker is that they utlize unusual steps in the intent of being quicker then most. Don't get me wrong, there are days I'll happily spend hours baking. And then there are days I'd much rather not. And this was the latter. The author regularly calls for melting butter, and then simply adding the dry ingredients. The results of this recipe were well received by the guys, or so the report came back. While they competed with pizza and wings, the double-decker brownies did very well for themselves and not too many were left.

I made a few couple changes but the recipe still worked. My brownie layer was a bit too fudgy - I was out of cocoa powder and NOT returning to the store, so I subbed an equal amount of fancy cocoa mix which had both powder and chunks of chocolate. I wouldn't repeat the recipe this way, but it worked. The chocolate chip layer was delicious - it was hard not to steal crumbs as they fell off of pieces. I chilled the cooked brownies overnight, and this was still a challenging recipe to cut. Perhaps I should have allowed for more warming before wrestling with a knife. At any rate, this would definitely be a recipe I'd repeat in the future. The recipe was quick, easy and made a multitude of brownies. What more could a busy chef ask for?

Chocolate-chip brownie double-deckers

The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge

Makes 2 dozen 2 inch (5 cm) double-deckers

Author’s notes – One afternoon, I was testing both the brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes for this book and my husband Chris was in the kitchen looking for a sample or two. Eyeing both batters, Chris asked what would happen if they were baked layered together. A great idea and, as it turned out, with a few tweaks to the chocolate chip recipe, I ended up with bar cookies that offer the best of both cookies.

Do aheads

The double deckers can be prepared through step 7, cut, tightly wrapped and frozen for up to one month. There’s almost no thawing necessary, about 20 minutes, as these brownies are delicious even when partially frozen.

For the Chocolate Chip layer

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Brownie layer

12 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup all purpose flour

  1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
  2. TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP LAYER -- Put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted. Slide pan from heat and add the brown sugar. Whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside to cool while you make the brownie layer.
  1. TO MAKE THE BROWNIE LAYER -- Put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted. Slide pan from heat and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until just blended. Whisk in vanilla with second egg. Sprinkle flour over chocolate mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended.
  1. Scrape batter into prepared baking dish and spread evenly with offset or rubber spatula. Set aside while you finish chocolate chip layer.
  2. TO FINISH CHOCOLATE CHIP LAYER -- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well blended. Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla to it and whisk until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  1. Drop the dough over the brownie batter in large scoopfuls and spread evenly with spatula. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with small, gooey clumps of brownie sticking to it (about 40 minutes). Don’t overbake, or they won’t be fudgy. Transfer baking pan to a rack to cool completely.
Using bench scraper or knife, cut into small squares measuring about 2 inches across. The cooler the double-deckers are, the cleaner cutting will be but these fudgy treats will always leave some sticky crumbs on the knife.

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