This week has been busy, even by my standards. I have moved, bought a house, and subsequently been working on said house. Late last night my wife and I were walking around admiring our new digs when she dropped her craving on me. Luckily, this one wasn't difficult or time-consuming: "I want brownies!"
I always get a little anxious when her brownie craving hits. I am a perfectionist and, although they may seem simple, a delicious, sumptuous chocolate brownie is a very personal thing. I love mine slightly crispy at the edges and a bit fudgy in the center, but still fully baked so they continue to get a bit firmer as they sit for the next day. My wife, on the other hand, goes straight for the edgeless center brownie. Some want theirs cake-like, molten, or spongy. You can see how it could get tricky. But when my wife has a pastry craving, it's my job to accomodate. So what's the easiest way to create the ideal brownie for any discerning diner?
1 ouce water
3 ounces butter
8 ounces piloncillo*, grated or chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Combine the water, piloncillo, and butter in a saucepan. Heat gently to dissolve all the ingredients together. Add flavored extracts, if desired, and bring to a boil. Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl and pour the boiling liquid over the chocolate. Let this sit for about four minutes. Stir the ingredients until you have a thin chocolate syrup that is mostly smooth. Wait another three minutes and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs into the syrup thoroughly, ensuring they are completely incorporated. Finally, add the flour and baking soda and whisk until completely combined and very smooth. Pour batter into a prepared baking dish and bake at 350F until done.
For a molten brownie, bake until the top and edges are crisp and remove gently. For a more cakey texture, bake until the entire batter is firm and won't wiggle when shaken. For a fudgy brownie with crispy edges (my favorite) bake it to the cakey level, remove the pan, and rap the pan once on the counter before letting it cool to make the edges stay firm while the center condenses to a rich layer of awesomeness.
For this recipe, it's just as easy to use any other sugar or sugar syrup you want. I might add some ground cinnamon or ground cloves for a more Mexican flavor. This will also work very well for any American inclusions like peanut butter or fruit preserves.
Satisfy the craving!
*Piloncillo is a type of sugar often used in Mexico and other Latin countries. It is unrefined sugar cane juice that is hardened into a mold, usually cones. It is very dense and may take some work to break apart, but the flavor is really worth the effort. Piloncillo has elements of smoke, caramel, toffee, strong earthy notes that will be really special with chocolate and spiced pastry. Be sure it is well grated and/or chopped, but most times it is boiled before use to ensure it is completely broken down and smooth for use.