“Dessert is up to you,” Suzen said. She was on the bus coming from New York City to the Catskills. In three hours, we were due at a dinner party. She had promised that we would bring dessert. On this particular bus line, they frown on people spending too much time on their cell phones, or having their iPod blasting away. Or baking anything, even brownies. So, dessert really was up to me.
“Brian,” she added, “don’t screw it up. Measure.”
Oh, the pressure. I wanted us to bring something glorious to this dinner party and I knew that both God and Suzen would be judging me. Where to turn?
The wonderful new book Cake Boy by Eric Lanlard is becoming the place I know I can find redemption. It has outstanding cakes, as the title would imply, but there are other things here to help a man facing duress. I scanned the book, checking both titles and headnotes. And it was this headnote that let me sigh with relief: “These lovely, rich, nutty, and chewy brownies are an ideal indulgent snack, as well as making the perfect dinner-party dessert.”
Rich. Brownies. Perfect dinner-party dessert.
This actually is a perfect dessert. It is, unfortunately, mistitled. It’s called Double Chocolate Pecan Brownies. But it’s not Double, it is Quadruple:
- Bittersweet Chocolate
- Cocoa Powder
- White Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
Ah, why quibble over words. That picture above shows the dreamy texture of the final product. No frosting or icing is necessary. Some vanilla ice cream on the side is a wise suggestion by Eric.
Cake Boy is a beautifully produced book: numerous and excellent photos, clean fonts on top of luxury paper, very well-tested recipes designed for the home cook. Eric crafted this book for you, and Cake Boy can only be termed a success.
Double Chocolate Pecan Brownies
Yield: 12 large brownies [enough for 6 or 5 or 4 or me]
- 1 ⅝ sticks [¼ pound plus 5 tablespoons] unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 6 ½ ounces best bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup pure cocoa powder
- 2 ounces white chocolate
- 2 ounces milk chocolate
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
- 1 cup pecan halves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a shallow brownie pan or regular square pan [8 ½ inches] with extra butter, and line with parchment paper
Cut the butter into cubes and add to the bittersweet chocolate. Melt in either a microwave or in a double boiler. In the microwave, heat for about 1 minute, remove, stir, and reheat for another 30 seconds if necessary. If using a double boiler, do not let the simmering water touch the bottom of the pan containing the butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat. Stir to dissolve any lumps and allow to cool a little.
Tip the flour and cocoa powder into a sifter held over a medium bowl.
With a large sharp knife, chop the white and milk chocolate into chunks on a board.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and tip in the sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume.
Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Add the sifted flour and cocoa mixture, and gently fold to using a large metal spoon. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks and chopped pecans until they are dotted evenly throughout the mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. The brownies are cooked when you get a nice cracked and crunchy crust on top, but still with wet fudgy middle.
Leave the whole thing in the pan until completely cold, then removed, peel away the paper, and cut into square using a sharp knife.
Source: Cake Boy by Eric Lanlard