With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes with you this week. For me, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating everyone you love, not just your significant other. Though I’m not really a fan of gifts on Valentine’s Day, I am all for a day that encourages you to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. In my opinion, cooking a delicious meal is a great way to show someone how much you care, and I hope the recipes this week will inspire you to make something special for someone you love. :)
First up is the cover recipe from February’s Bon Appétit. As soon as I received this issue in the mail, I knew I had to try this recipe. I’ve never been a huge fan of brownies, but these called to me. Browned butter and walnuts? Yes, please! These brownies are fudgy on the inside, chewy on the outside, and perfectly moist. The browned butter is the most unique aspect of this recipe, and it adds a slightly nutty flavor to these. I love the walnuts and the crunch they add to each bite, and I bet macadamia nuts or pecans would be fabulous in these, as well. The brownies aren’t nearly as sweet as some varieties I’ve had, and I prefer them that way because the chocolate comes through so much more. These are rich and decadent, way different than the cake-like brownies I typically make. The only change I will make next time is to add espresso powder because I just love espresso and chocolate together. The recipe called for baking the brownies for 25 minutes, but mine were substantially underdone after that amount of time, and I actually had to bake them about 10 minutes longer. I have reflected these changes in the recipe.
Browned Butter and Walnut Brownies
Vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
Position oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325º. Line an 8- by 8-inch metal baking pan with foil. Press foil firmly against the sides of the pan and leave a 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray and set pan aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter has melted, continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring often, until butter has stopped foaming and has turned a light brown color. Remove from heat and immediately add sugar, cocoa, vanilla, water, espresso powder (if using) and salt. Stir until combined and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs to chocolate mixture one at a time, whisking well after each addition. When mixture is thick and shiny, add flour and whisk until blended. Continue whisking vigorously for 60 strokes. Stir in nuts and pour batter into pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan set on a wire rack. Using the foil, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve immediately or store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days.
Adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2011