ultimate brownie - what kind of chocolate
- fitzhammer2000 Jan 4, 2005 11:14 AM
I am volunteering to make desserts for an event on Thrusday and would love to find the ultimate brownie recipe. One that would be chewey and buttery would be perfect (not cake-like). So many recipes I have seen call for only unsweetened chocolate and all I can find is "Baker's Brand" at the supermarkets where I live; but all kinds of good bittersweet brands like Lindt and other imported kinds. Any advice would be appreciated.
Aren't you going to share your receipe?
If you are looking for good chocolate like Lindt, you should go to a specialty food store or nice candy store (like one in an upscale mall).
My hands down favorite chocolate for baking (especially brownies) is Scharffenberger. It has a very high cocoa content and makes a noticeable difference in the end result. It's made in northern California, and is widely available at high end markets (e.g., Bristol Farms in So Cal) or specialty stores. Peet's Coffee carries snack sized bars, but not the baking size.
I often substitute bittersweet/semisweet and unsweetened.
1 ounce bittersweet=1 ounce unsweetened plus 1 scant tablespoon of white sugar.
So if your recipe contains any added sugar, you may use bittersweet chocolate and cut the sugar accordingly.
Try to use 75% cocoa chocolate - the unsweetened chocolate typically has higher cocoa content than bittersweet/semisweet.
Alternatively, if a chocolate is to be melted, you can substitute 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and one tablespoon of oil for an ounce of unsweetened chocolate - should you have access to a good cocoa powder.
The number of eggs you use determines where on the cake-like scale brownies fall. Use more, use less and you change the consistency. I can't remember which way it goes, but it is in the King Arthur cookbook.
As for chocolate, in brownies, I'd use a high-quality unsweetened if I could find one. A high-quality brand uses better beans, that had a careful ferment and roasting and were never alkalized. Unsweetened chocolate is raw chocolate without sugar. Bittersweet has sugar, some vanilla and soya lecithin added. The % cocoa content is the combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Chocolate makers increase the ratio of cocoa butter (tasteless but creamy) to solids. So a 75% bar is 75% cocoa butter and cocoa solids. The rest is sugar (mainly), lecithin (a couple percent) and vanilla. Because you're putting it in brownies, as opposed to candy, the extra oomph from the higher ratio of cocoa solids to cocoa butter in unsweetened(you'll be adding sweet butter anyway, which is better then cocoa butter for taste) will give you a more powerful taste. If you cannot find a quality unsweetened, then go with a quality bittersweet and adjust the sugar accordingly.
I always make the ones linked below. Note they use mostly semi-sweet. I rarely use anything but regular grocery store choc. (Bakers) They are spectacular. I often leave out the choc chips.
Recently I have been making them very thin, sans choc chips, and then making a choc/cream ganache to spread in a super thin layer on top. Then I refridgerate (seems to make the texture even denser) and cut into tiny (about a sq inch) squares to serve as a post-dessert nibble.
I would think that Scharfengerger or Valhrona would put them into orbit.
I borrowed "Bittersweet" by Alice Medrich from the library last month. The book's gimmick is a conversion table in most of the recipes so you can use any of the different percentages of bittersweet chocolate and get the amount of sugar right. She's got brownie recipes in there that use cocoa, unsweetened, semisweet and bittersweet chocolate. I made one with Lindt Excellence that was in fact excellent. Check it out if you have time...
Go to a bookstore that has the Best Recipe Cookbook; turn to the page on brownies; read it (costs nothing so far!). I'm sure that you will be convinced that they know more about brownie making than most anybody else you know. Follow their instructions closely.
Also, find the page where they discuss the baking chocolate taste-test. Baker's brand was a Big Loser, but you also don't need to spend a fortune on chocolate to make brownies for a bunch of slobs. Most people cannot taste much of anything, even if they are your good friends.