We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ooiest Gooiest Chocolatiest Fudgiest Brownies

by Michelle

   For nearly a decade, during my twenties, I worked as a sales account manager for a small business, a high-tech manufacturers' represenative owned by two men, Barry and Harry. Yes, that's right, Barry and Harry. Their names rhymed, but that's where the similarities ended. The partners could not have been more different and yet it was their disctinct differences that complemented each other, and helped them to build a very successful business. Since the business always had fewer than 10 employees, we always felt like a family, and if there were any secrets, they were well hidden. We were all interwoven into the fabric of each other's lives. Like any family we squabbled, fought, reconciled, celebrated, and leaned on each other for personal and professional support. We celebrated bar and bat mitvahs, birthdays, weddings, holidays and key milestones, and collectively mourned divorces, deaths, and tragic global events.  
   Looking back, it is easy for me to identify that each man was an instrumental father figure in my life. Harry took me under his wing and introduced me to the finer things in life: gourmet food and wine. Barry, an excellent negotiator who led by example, explained the intricacies of a deal, and helped me transition from an inside sales role to the coveted position of field sales. Barry taught me how to listen and how to be comfortable with uncomfortable silences. In theory it is "as simple" as asking a question, and not saying anything more - no matter how strenuous the silence - until the person being asked the question reponds. I continually draw upon the lessons that I learned while under the tutelage of Barry and Harry, and there was surely no better place to start my career than to work with these two fine men who were my mentors.

Harry took this photo of me in the late 1980's at a colleague's wedding.
  Barry's wife, Lolly, visited the office frequently. She was a force: a mother of four, owner of a successful  catering business and in her "spare time" assisted Barry with payroll and the accounting for the rep company. One paticular Friday morning, I was sharing with the wider audience that I planned on making brownies over the weekend, but had not settled on a recipe. Lolly, who was passing by, heard my comments and said something to the effect of, "My grandmother made the ooiest, gooiest, most chocolatiest, fudgiest brownies you will ever taste." Oh, really? I'd love to get my hands on that recipe, I thought to myself. Much to my surprise, when I politely requested the recipe, she directed me to fetch a piece of paper. My pen at the ready, she recited the recipe from memory. I was more than a little surprised that she could recall it upon request until I remembered that this is a woman who can read a book and knit simultaneously. 
   If you want to experience the ooiest, gooiest, most chocolatiest, fudgiest brownies ever, don't delay, make Lolly's Grandmother's brownies today!

Ooiest Gooiest Chocolatiest Fudgiest Brownies

   You can make the brownies earlier in the day, and the tasty delight will stay quite content in the pan until dessert is ready to be served. This is a decidedly unfussy dessert that just about everyone will surely love. I also like adding smaller cut portions of brownies to a dessert buffet that can be eaten without the aid of a plate and fork.
   For a more formal gathering, the brownies are extraordinary served with ice cream and vanilla whipped cream (bonus points if both are homemade). You may also want to consider drizzling caramel sauce that has been gently warmed. If you opt out of the walnuts in the recipe (due to someone in the crowd with an aversion or allergy to nuts), a great alternative is to serve candied walnuts or pecans on the side that can be sprinkled over the whipped cream. The brownies are also delicious served with milk, red wine or port.
   This is an easy dessert for teenagers to make. My daughter, Maddie alternates between preparing brownies and Linda's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Maddie will sometimes use salted butter, in which case, she omits the 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 extra large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1-1/2 tsps vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided
3/4 cup walnut halves or roughly chopped walnuts, optional
additional butter or spray oil to grease the pan

ice cream
whipping cream or dazzle the crowd with a Whip-It! (fun to say, fun to use.)
caramel sauce
Maple Sugared Candied Walnuts or pecans

1. Open the oven door and verify that the bottom rack is placed in the lower third of the oven. The top rack should rest in the upper third of the oven with enough room to easily slide in the baking dish below. Set a big cookie sheet on the top rack to act as a "shield" which will help prevent the brownies from over-browning during baking.Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Butter or spray a 9"x12"x2" rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
3. Combine chocolate and butter together in a double boiler set over water and heat until just melted. Stir until completely smooth. Remove the top part of the double boiler, discard water. Set chocolate and butter mixture aside to cool slightly.

4. Beat eggs and sugar really well, about 5 minutes. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and half the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the greased pan. Gently shake the pan to evenly distribute the batter to the edges. Cover the top with the remaining half of the chocolate chips.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes until fragrant and set. The edges will pull slightly away from the sides of the pan. Do not over bake... it is far better if the brownies are a little under done... they'll be just that much more fudgier. Cool on a rack. Yield: 12-16, or more, depending upon serving size.

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