Editor's Note: I wrote during my first night in San Francisco, and, before scheduling it to publish, had second thoughts. I was going to start my new job in a few days, and the post could easily be misread to undermine my excitement for the new opportunity. I didn't want to make a bad first impression! I've been holding on to this post for a few weeks, and am finally comfortable enough to share. But if it seems out of order when compared with prior posts, that's why.
Last week, as I stood in my empty house, I was overwhelmed with heartbreak and sadness. I'd worked out that in the last 5 years, I'd moved a total of 8 times across 2 different countries, 3 different states (Oregon and California multiple times), and between 9 apartments and houses. My move back to San Francisco would be move #9.
All those moves were instigated by a job change. My mom, being a classic Asian Tiger Mother, had always drilled me to follow my career, follow the money. Well, if the last five years is any indication, I must have taken that a little too literally.
If that sounds a little bit bitter, I'll be honest — it kind of is. When I moved back to Portland in 2012, I had thought it was for good. I worked hard to build myself a permanent life there, buying a house and remodeling the kitchen to fit my needs perfectly, building a new network of friends. Everything was great, except for my career. I'm not going to talk about it here, but prior to leaving Portland, I was tired, exhausted, and burnt out.
I took the new job in San Francisco because it was an amazing opportunity in terms of career advancement and salary. In my head, I knew that the opportunity made sense and was a good decision. But in my heart? That's where things got a little bit murky. Because with every move I've made, I've had to give up more and more — family, friends, a home, my relationship. Is the opportunity really an opportunity if it costs so much? And at what point is the sacrifice too much?
I don't know the answer to that, and I know I won't know the answer to for a long, long time. But I do know that I also took the opportunity because I hoped a major change would revitalize me and help me recover from my burnout. So far, it seems to be working. I spent my first day in San Francisco wandering around, unexpectedly grinning at how much I lucked out with my new studio and my new neighborhood. I may have reluctantly accepted the move with a heavy heart, but with each step (uphill) I can feel my shoulders unrounding and my load lightening.
As for these brownies, I don't really have much to say except that they're awesome and incredibly chocolatey and really the best. They're a riff off of my favorite brownie recipe, Supernatural Brownies, but with a touch of whole wheat graham flour thrown in for a better mouthfeel and heartier crumb, along with some walnuts for texture. And finally, they're made with the BEST single-origin chocolate bars from Pitch Dark Chocolate. During my last week in Portland, I had the chance to visit their chocolate shop/factory and try a bunch of their bars and truffles (everything was amazing, but this matcha and cocoa nib chocolate bar was out of this world). The chocolate I ended up using for these brownies are their 73% cacao Ecuador bars, in which the cacao bean is fermented to bring out floral notes in the chocolate, ultimately giving the brownies a complex, bittersweet note.
Some baker's notes:
- I used Pitch Dark Chocolate for these brownies, but you can of course use any chocolate of your choice. But use chocolate that's at least 70% cacao so you can get that deep, intense chocolate flavor!
- Graham flour is available online or in specialty health food stores. One of my favorite things about graham flour is that it lasts longer than other whole grain flours, so you can buy in bulk and use throughout the year. For other recipes that use graham flour, check out this recipe for small batch whole grain chocolate muffin mix or this recipe for s'mores cupcakes (one of my favorites recipes on the blog!).
- I added walnuts to the brownies because I had a bag in my fridge that I needed to use before moving; feel free to omit if you prefer smooth brownies! For those who like a little crunch and texture in their brownies, I left some of the walnuts whole and others halved for more textural variety.
- If you can believe it, these brownies get even more flavorful and intense as they sit overnight. It's best to let them sit overnight so you get that the flavors soak and you're left with a really caramelly and chocolatey brownie. But good luck holding off. I always devour at least a third of the pan before letting it sit. OH WELL.
Break My Heart Brownies
For the Break My Heart Brownies:
(makes one 9 x 13-inch pan)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces 73% cacao Pitch Dark chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup graham flour
- 1 cup whole and halved walnuts (optional)
For the Break My Heart Brownies:
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F), and prepare your baking pan by spraying with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and grease paper. Set pan aside.
- In a double boiler (or, a homemade version with a heatproof bowl sitting on top of a saucepan), combine 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter with 8 ounces Pitch Dark chocolate. Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 eggs in a large bowl. Add 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt. Whisk until fully incorporated — the mixture should be a golden tan color. Whisk in the chocolate mixture (from the second step).
- Once the mixture is a uniform dark brown, use a rubber spatula to fold in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup graham flour. Be careful not to overmix during this part! Simply fold in until the flour is incorporated —it's okay to have one or two small flour streaks left in the batter. Scatter 1 cup whole and halved walnuts over the batter and stir once or twice until fully incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, using the rubber spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, preferably overnight, before cutting and serving.