The Cookbook Challenge: Week 13 Love recipe – Rick Katz’s brownies for Julia

by April@MyFoodTrail on February 17, 2010

in Baking, Cookbook Challenge 2010, Recipes, Slices

Theme: Love
Cookbook: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Love was an appropriate theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge with Valentine’s Day this week. Valentine’s Day this year also happens to fall on the same day as Chinese New Year’s Day so it was a busy weekend for us! I wanted to make the Chinese “love letters” (sweet, crunchy egg rolls) covering off the love theme as well as Chinese New Year, but I didn’t have a recipe in any of my cookbooks and I don’t have the mould.

The next idea I had was to make brownies in a heart shape. Society has influenced that chocolate is associated with love. You only need to look at the displays in shop for Valentine’s Day to see it is filled with chocolates!

There are so many recipes out there for chocolate brownies and everyone has a different interpretation of what makes a good brownie. I decided I wanted to use Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook for this week’s challenge but wow, even in her cookbook there were 12 brownie recipes!! When I Googled “Dorie Greenspan best brownie”, almost all her recipes were labelled the best brownie! Some people even called particular recipes the best brownie recipe in the WORLD or the best brownie EVER!

If you read American food blogs, you would have probably come across a baking group called Tuesdays with Dorie. Each week a new recipe is chosen to bake from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours. I was intrigued that a group with so many members would choose this particular book to bake from and figured it must be good and set about trying to buy a copy. I couldn’t find it at any bookstores here in Melbourne to browse, so I ended up just buying it from Amazon US.

It is a thick cookbook, with 528 pages. I bought the book last year and I’m surprised I haven’t baked from it yet! This is partly due to the fact that there are just so many recipes in the cookbook, it is almost overwhelming! Also the recipes are in US measurements so I have to convert them before making something! The margins have little notes about variations if you wanted to make the recipe differently.

These brownies are named after Boston based pastry chef Rick Katz who used to make them while working in the prep kitchen for Julia Child’s TV series Baking with Julia. The way he prepares the batter is different from any other recipe Dorie knows. Half the eggs and sugar are mixed in with the chocolate, while the other half are beaten until they have doubled in volume and are as light as a sponge.

My idea to make the brownies into a heart shape with a cookie cutter didn’t work out too well as the top of this brownie recipe was quite hard and cracked as soon as I pushed the cutter through. It looks more like a broken heart!

On another note, upon cracking one of the eggs for this recipe open, I discovered a double egg yolk! According to Wikipedia, double yolk eggs occur when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk becomes joined with another yolk. These eggs may be the result of a young hen’s productive cycle not yet being synchronised. There’s something you might not know! I wonder whether it is supposed to be lucky to discover a double yolk egg?! 🙂 Apparently it only happens to 1 in 1000 eggs!

Double egg yolks caught by my egg separator!

Rick Katz’s brownies for Julia

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp salt (would probably use ½ tsp next time)
8 oz (225g) unsalted butter, chopped
6 oz (170g) good quality dark chocolate, at least 35% cocoa solids, coarsely chopped (I used a mix of Lindt 70% & Lindt dark chocolate)
2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Grease and line a 9 inch square baking pan.

2. Mix the flour and salt together and set aside.

3. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the butter in the bowl and top with the chopped chocolate. Stir frequently until the ingredients are just melted – you don’t want to get them so hot that the butter separates.

4. Add 1 cup of the sugar to the chocolate and whisk or stir gently just to incorporate it, then remove the bowl from the pan of water.

5. Stir in the vanilla and transfer the warm chocolate to a large bowl.

6. Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl and using a whisk, stir in the eggs.

Whisking the eggs with the sugar

7. Switch to a rubber spatula and little by little, add half the sugar egg mixture to the warm chocolate, stirring very gently but without stopping – you don’t want the heat of the chocolate to cook the eggs.

Chocolate batter

8. With the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the remaining sugar and eggs on medium high for about 3 minutes, or until they double in volume.

Eggs & sugar after beating

9. Using a spatula and a light touch, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture, stopping short of blending them in completely.

Folded eggs into the chocolate mixture

10. Continuously sprinkle the flour over the batter and delicately fold them in, working only until they disappear.

Adding in the flour

11. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top looks dry. The brownies should be only just set and still pretty gooey.

12. Cool in the pan. The brownies are fragile and best cut in the pan.

Storing: These will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an air tight container or freeze for up to 2 months.

Results: The original smell and taste of the brownies straight out of the oven reminded me of chocolate fondants. These brownies had a hard, crunchy top, but inside they were very, very soft and fudgey. They were rich and chocolatey but not too sweet. I stored some in the fridge and those ones hardened up but I think they are better left at room temperature and eaten soft. I served them with vanilla ice-cream. While the brownies are really good, I wouldn’t go so far as calling them the best.

Would I make them again? Yes, if I am looking for a dessert to have with ice cream.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah February 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Cute!!! Great idea!

I quite like Nigel Slater's 24-carat brownies and Belinda Jeffrey's melt-and-mix macadamia brownies if you're looking for a new recipe.

xox Sarah


Iron Chef Shellie February 17, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Hmmm I might have to get that cookbook too 😉

I love your egg separator! I have the mini whisk of the egg man.

I wanted to learn how to make love letters from my aunty, but she had already made them before I could even ask!

Brownies look gorgeous!


Vee - A Melbourne Munchkin. February 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I am ALWAYS looking for a dessert to go with ice cream! Those are some of the best brownies I've ever seen, damn I have huge chocolate cravings now! =o))


OohLookBel February 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

I can definitely imagine these brownies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!


penny aka jeroxie February 18, 2010 at 11:37 am

I love double yolks! Awesome. And the brownies looks soo yummy. Ice cream will be perfect 😀


Conor @ HoldtheBeef February 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Gearing up for your US trip by going all Dorie Greenspan on us hey? 😉

I can sense the inner soft fudginess by looking at them, mmmm they look good!

I also think your egg separator is hilarious! I didn't even know they existed, let alone such cute ones.


Maree February 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

thanks for your comment on the sticky rice- I think thats fixed now! Would love to try the Chinese love letters- they sound yummo! Glad these weren't too sweet as I often find American cakes and baking things way too sweet! Like that they are so light!


Maree February 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

PS in my family, double yolks are definitely a sign of good luck!


SilverMoon Dragon February 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

The hearts on the peach pies I made for Valentine's day cracked too. I hope it's not a sign!


Ange February 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

So cute & funny you mention the double egg yolks, I have had 2 in the last couple of weeks, I must be extra lucky! I did actually win a junior Masterchef egg & rice kit for Chloe this week so the luck is already working it seems…


Mrs Multitasker February 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Hello hello! Love the picture of the double yolk, love the pictures of the brownies, love Dorie Greenspan recipes =) Love this post!

I'm so bummed we didn't get to meet the week before last… hopefully there will be another chance. Let's see if you make it to Singapore before I make it to Melbourne again!


Betty @ The Hungry Girl February 18, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Oh yum! I love brownies! Your's look perfect gooey and crunchy on top. Maybe the double egg yolk is some sort of good luck thing, and the fact that it came just before CNY must mean something!


Rizka February 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Hi Rilsta! I really really like your egg separator.. Your brownie loos so yummy tooo..!! hmmm..


imasugarjunkie February 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm

oooh those look really good! I love the look of the crunchy top with the moist inside!


mademoiselle délicieuse February 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

I have been brought up in a most Chinese way to believe that double yolks are a lucky sign. So imagine my delight when I got two double yolks from the same dozen pack recently!


Rilsta February 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

Hi Sarah: Thanks for the suggestion! I don't have the cookbooks but shall try & find the recipes!

Hi Shellie: Hehe, how cute is that range of egg products!

Hi Vee: Thanks! I am totally advocating you satisfying your brownie craving! 🙂

Hi Belle: They were so yummy with icecream!

Hi Penny: Ice cream + brownies = perfect combination!

Hi Conor: Haha! Never thought about the connection of Dorie Greenspan & my US trip! Maybe I should stalk her instead of celebrities?! ;P

Hi Maree: Ooh, in that case I will count myself lucky!

Hi SilverMoon Dragon: No! It shouldn't be a sign! 🙂

Hi Ange: Wow! Double egg yolks twice?! That really must be extra lucky. I'm waiting to see what I can win! ;P

Hi Mrs Multitasker: Thanks for all the love! 😛 I'm sorry we didn't get to meet too, hopefully we get the chance soon!

Hi Betty: Thanks! I'm hoping it is double good luck since it is Chinese New Year too!

Hi Rizka: The egg separator was too cute & it means I can easily separate out the white & the yolk.

Hi imasugarjunkie: I love crunchy tops too!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Since everyone is saying it, I'm so believing it is lucky then!


Two fit and fun gals March 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm

i would zap these babies in the microwave 7 serve with icecream if they lasted for then a couple days- yum! :O)


Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) March 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

my father-in-law runs an egg farm and double yolk eggs are quite common from younger hens. you can spot them really easily because they are generally bigger than normal and they don't get sold because they don't fit in the standard cartons. so they gave these double yolkers away to employees or sell them to restaurants.

he doesn't eat eggs. guess who gets them? us! i see him about once a month and i get a couple of trays from him. i'm happy to spread the 'luck' around! 😛


April @ My Food Trail May 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

Hi Betty: They were perfect with icecream!

Hi Kat: This particular egg didn't seem bigger than any of the others in the carton. Maybe it was a mutant one! And I wouldn't say no to free range eggs! 🙂


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