Man, I had a tough week last week.
It was a combination of things. First things first, my family was in town. While I love my family, it’s always a little bit stressful hosting them as they require a lot of hand-holding in terms of entertainment, figuring out what to do, etc. In addition to taking care of all the planning and activities, I basically played chauffeur all week. If you know me in real life, you know what a foul mood driving around will make me since I tend to avoid it at all costs (I bike to work everyday, rain or shine). Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted when we said our goodbyes.
My family’s visit to Portland also happened to coincide with Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards Ceremony. A few months ago, I was absolutely thrilled to find out that my blog was a finalist for the ceremony’s Best Desserts & Baking Blog category. As a finalist, I was invited to attend a ceremony recognizing all the winners and finalists hosted by Saveur in Las Vegas’s famous Bellagio hotel. The invitation promised two days of amazing food tours, as well as the chance to be in the company of some of the world’s best bloggers and important people in the food industry in general.
After several weeks of hemming, hawing, and discussion with both friends and family, I decided to forgo the invitation to the ceremony and instead spend the time with my family. For several reasons: 1) my parents were coming from abroad (by way of a 13 hour+ flight) to visit, 2) it was my dad and brother’s first time in Portland, and 3) I hadn’t seen any of them since Christmas (or in the case of my brother, since 2009). Family is more important, right?
And although I know that I made the right choice, it still sucked looking at Saveur Magazine’s and other invited bloggers’ instagram pictures, tweets, and posts of the extravagant event. I know I should have blocked my instagram feed or something, but the masochist in me just kept monitoring the event hashtag and staring at the pictures of awesome meals, incredible views of Vegas, and most importantly, bloggers I admired all together, looking like they were having the time of their lives. And to spend just two days being treated like a star, especially considering how much time and effort I’ve put into this blog? It would have been the experience of a lifetime — most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that I passed up.
And it was with those gloomy thoughts in mind that I found myself baking a batch of brownies:
When times get tough, I do what I always do: I bake brownies. Sure, I love desserts of all kind, but nothing can cheer me up like a brownie and a tall glass of milk.
These brownies, recommended by my coworker Alanna (who knows the best recipes), are the best recipe I’ve ever made: Nick’s Supernatural Brownies. Intensely, unapologetically chocolatey. Almost pure unadulterated fudge, yet topped off with the papery, flaky top that is the signature of the best brownies. Supernatural brownies, indeed. I found myself eating almost the entire pan on Thursday night. And it helped a lot. Eating your feelings away always does, right?
Especially when you eat them away with brownies.
A few baker’s notes:
- I’ve never seen brownies that have brown sugar in the recipe, and this recipe uses the brown sugar to great effect. The brown sugar adds a subtle caramel flavor and texture that gives these brownies their unique taste and fudgy texture.
- Under any circumstances, DO NOT OVERMIX THE BROWNIE BATTER. Doing so will result in tough, hard brownies that will make me cry for you. Simply fold together the ingredients until they are just incorporated. Ideally, you should still have one or two small flour streaks left in the batter when you transfer the batter to the baking pan.
- Word on the internets is that these brownies improve over time; you’re supposed to let them sit overnight before consuming so that the flavors really soak in and you’re left with an ultra, caramelly, chocolatey brownie. But good luck holding off a whole night with these babies.
For the Supernatural Brownies:
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces (or 227 grams) dark (between 60% to 70% cacao) chocolate, from whole fèves or a high-quality chocolate bar chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup (4.5 ounces or 128 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup tightly packed (7.5 ounces or 213 grams) brown sugar
- 1 cup (7 ounces or 198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Supernatural Brownies:
- Make the brownies. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the pan’s two long sides. Spray the parchment, too.
- Place the butter and cocoa powder in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan filled with a few inches of simmering water (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Cook over medium heat to melt the butter, using a heatproof rubber spatula to stir the mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the butter and chocolate have melted and combined, about 10 minutes. Set the double boiler or bowl on a wire rack and let the chocolate mixture cool while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk on low until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the mixer to medium and slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, aiming for the sides of the bowl as opposed to the whisk. Continue whisking on medium until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter all at once and use a rubber spatula to mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
- Serve and store. Run a butter knife or offset spatula along the edges of the pan and use the overhanging parchment as handles to lift the brownies out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into 20 rectangles, each about 21⁄4 inches wide and21⁄2 inches long, and serve. The brownies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
This post was last updated 8/7/2020.
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.