13 July 2007


This recipe is world famous. It was brought to Italy in 2004 by a red-headed Texan named Linaya (or "Leah" for those who know her by her pre-stage name). While it may look like a simple brownie recipe, it is so so much more. It is countless nights of midnight (and 4 a.m.) baking sprees. It is the wide-eyed surprise of Italians when they discover with that first choclately bite that perhaps the best food in the world is not, in fact, made only by their mothers. It is eating them out of the baking sheet with sticky fingers, or masterfully arranging them on plates with swirls of freshly whipped cream and ripe strawberries. Yes, these are "browneries" which get their name from the awkward English of some enthusiastically drunk Italian acquaintance. They get their sweet charm, however, from the all fun memories of our first, hilarious cultural exchanges so lovingly prepared with each batch.

* 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2 cold large eggs
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
* Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

You may also serve as above, with fresh fruit and melted chocolate drizzled all over. Drives the Italians wild.


LaLaLaLeah said...

This has to be one of my favorite recipes to make. They are the epitome of chocolate satisfaction... and guaranteed to garner compliments. True to my "always an adventure" baking style, no two batches ever turn out quite the same; which goes to show how precise an art (science) baking really is. I remember making them in Italy for the first time and having to eyeball "10 Tbsp." of butter. Let's just say I could have greased the next pan with my fingers after eating the finished product. It was the first time I really saw the value in a kitchen scale. This brownie recipe will wear out your arms and this is exactly what I love about it: the stirring. I love to watch the white, white flour slowly combine into the dark chocolate batter, circle after circle. I recommend eating them within minutes of removing them from the oven for melt in your mouth brownerie goodness. Enjoy with a coffee or cognac. These babies confirmed my status as Linaya 99. Mmm...

Emilio said...


Emilio said...

And I love you sister of mine!!!