Friday, September 03, 2010

Cocoa Brownies

The US is looking forward to Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end to summer, and in my home, we are sure to have a busy and exciting time. Our dear Italian friend arrives this weekend with her husband, baby and sister and they will stay with us for a week. The guest room is ready, sheets and towels are freshly washed and the fridge and pantry are stocked up with enough food for a small army.

To welcome them with a sweet treat, I baked a batch of all-American dark fudgy brownies studded with walnuts. The recipe comes from one of the superstars in the world of desserts, Alice Medrich. I found the recipe here on Smitten Kitchen.

The recipe is unusual in many respects- for instance, you use cold eggs (straight from the fridge) where almost all baking recipes require you to use ingredients at room temperature. Also, after stirring in the flour, the directions ask you to beat the batter dozens of times, where most recipes want you to fold the ingredients in ever so gently avoid developing the gluten when you want a tender result. But it all works just perfectly. What's more, the recipe calls for ingredients that I always have on hand.

I followed the recipe closely with these minor modifications:
1. I reduced the sugar to a cup.
2. I used a microwave to make the butter, sugar, salt and cocoa mixture. This made brownie-batter-making a one bowl deal with very minimal clean-up.

After baking, I placed the brownies in the fridge overnight; cooling them really helped to get clean slices.

These are dense fudgy brownies with a rich chocolate flavor- truly a treat. It is my second time making this recipe. The first time I sent a batch with my friend Neighbor Girl when she went to visit her grandma a couple of states over. Neighbor Girl reported that her grandma who normally picks at her food and barely eats anything ate several brownies with gusto. That just made me so happy, especially since I live too far away from my own grandma to ever bake or cook anything for her.

Fresh off the Hooks

My hexagon afghan is done- whew! And it makes me happy just looking at these colorful flowers. It definitely has a retro look though.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.


  1. The brownies are making me weak in the knees.. seriously. they look so chocolatey and chewy, ooooh!
    The afghan looks very pretty and a lot of work.
    Enjoy the weekend and the week with ur visitors.

  2. Brownies look awesome. Have fun with ur guests and enjoy the long weekend. Afgan looks amazing. Beautiful colors.

  3. Your posts always make me wish I were your neighbor, but dang! this one makes me want to move right in. Can't beat the combination of fresh brownies and freshly-washed sheets...

  4. The brownies look so tempting, and oh the afghan. Awesome...Doesn't it feel great when you complete a project and it looks that good? I get so excited even with the small knit projects.

  5. Love the afghan..looks beautiful..admire your dedication and patience to create something so wonderful

  6. I really wish some one could teach me to knit do it soooo well. I am floored seeing this retro afghan work. I so wish I had a neighbor like you ...:)

  7. oh btw..the brownies look awesome...i have tried a similar recipe too....i am sure you friend will love it!

  8. those brownies look the afghan! fabulous work and just in time for season change!

  9. love the texture of the brownies...looks absolutely tempting. the knitted throw looks absolutely gorgeous.

  10. My goodness ! You really have loads of patience ..that is realle a pretty piece and the brownies look perfect !

  11. Brownies look really yummy and inviting.

  12. Oh sinful God - these looks really fudgy! Maybe I should...for my tea party today!
    Awesome afgan! Great job, Nupur!

  13. Nupur, what a BEEEEYOOOOTIFUL afghan! All those cool blues...

    And the brownies - I might make some today.

  14. That is a beautiful piece of work and those brownies look so good, really fudgey just as I like them. Bet they go down a treat :)

  15. Those brownies look delicious Nupur.
    Mine most often have to be eaten with a spoon because it is so crumbly. Sticking it in the fridge and then cutting aha!

  16. Your brownies look so perfect. Thanks for the tip about refrigerating them. I wouldn't be able to resist and hold off for that long though.. :D

  17. Your guests are in for a real treat! Hope you all have fun nibbling on brownies together.

  18. I hope you have a completely lovely time with your friends. I'm so impressed with the afghan. My mother used to crochet and knit, so it always makes me think of her when I see beautiful handmade things like that.

  19. Hi Nupur,

    I love your blog, although I have never commented but have been reading for years now :). I must say that I'm a big fan of your crochets.. I don't know how to crochet, but I want to learn..can you suggest how one can start. I'm expecting a baby next year and can't wait to get omething for the baby.. can you please tell me how to start?


  20. Manasi- Oh yeah the brownies were seriously chocolatey :)

    Pavani- Thanks so much, hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

    Niranjana- Well, do move right in, I would love to be able to talk books with my neighbor :)

    Amruta- I agree, every project, little or big, gives a rush of exhilaration when completed.

    Madhuli- Thank you! I don't have much patience but this got done over many many evenings of post-dinner relaxing/ TV watching.

    Preeti Kashyap- LOL well, someone could teach you to knit if you wanted! Everyone who has tasted the brownies so far love them, it is a great recipe.

    arundati- That's exactly right, the afghan is perfect now that we have a little nip in the air.

    Sayantani- Thank you so much! Yes, the brownies have a melt-in-the-mouth texture.

    Arch- No, trust me, I am woefully short on patience but when you do a little bit each night would pressure of finishing, it magically gets done one fine day.

    Vidhya- Thanks!

  21. Anita- Yes, they would be perfect for your tea party- I'll be joining you with some spicy treat in the next couple of days!

    Shyam- Thanks :) I love those cool blues too, they are easy on the eyes.

    Jacqueline- Yup, each bite was a treat, and they are so rich that a little piece is very satisfying.

    indosungod- I agree, I have the same problem while cutting brownies, half of them crumble and the knife is coated in sticky brownie crumbs. But chilling them solves the problem very neatly!

    SS- LOL how did you guess? We could not resist either and cut into them right after baking, but left the rest in the fridge to cut neatly.

    Lydia- Thank you! :)

    Kalyn- Thank you, the afghan is just right for snuggling into, and how fun that you mom loved to knit and crochet.

    Arc- You could go into a craft store and buy (a) a size G crochet hook and (b) a ball of any worsted yarn. The store staff can help you find these. Then buy/borrow a book called "Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker" and spend some time reading the book and learning stitches with your new hook and yarn. If you can't learn something, look up videos online and follow along. This is how I learned.

  22. Beautiful brownie and gorgeous Afghan - look at those colours!! Have a very happy week with your friends!

  23. I love the afghan. It is so pretty!

  24. brownies are a wonderful way to welcome any friends! and not to mention that cozy afghan.. you have got patience and creativity, Nupur. hats off to you.

  25. Your brownies look so scrumptious!! I could like my computer monitor. hehe. The hexagonal pattern is unusual and so pretty. Thanks so much for sharing these.

  26. The brownies and the afghan both look be-yoo-ti-full:) Wish I could get my hands on those brownies - they are one of my fav sweet treats!!! Have a good week with your friends. If the rest of the food is as yummy as these brownies, am sure everyone's going to have a wonderful time! Cheers :)

  27. Thanks so much, Nupur! I really appreciate your help.. will let you know how it goes. Thanks so much!

  28. Those brownies look heavenly!! yummmm...

  29. Nupur, I hope you don't mind- I love your brownies, but i simply adore your afghan! You are so talented, love the splash of colours in it :-)

  30. Those brownies look so chocolaty and gooey that I am drooling all over. Love your crochet work. You are seriously a talented woman.

  31. Miri- Thank you so much!

    radioactivegan- Glad you like it :)

    PJ- This did not require too much patience actually, when you do a little bit every day, it adds up. There's a lesson in there for me somewhere.

    Som's Studio- Thanks- glad you like them.

    Preeti- Thanks! This is a great brownie recipe, I've tried so many but will stick to this one for a while.

    Arc- Sure- good luck.

    Mangala Prabhu- Thanks!

    Sunita- Thanks so much, it is adding a welcome dose of color and cheer in my living room :)

    Radhika- Not any more talented that all of you fellow bloggers!!

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  33. love the retro quilt - quite fancy sitting admiring your quilt and nibbling on a brownie - they look delicious

  34. Hi Nupur,

    I love how your brownies look...i love them chewy than a little cripsy...I love the adghan...where do you have all the time girl??? You rock!!! Have I ever mentioned I love your header pic of the thali that you have woven???



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