Yesterday, Nate and I saw Crazy Heart (that’s right, we’re finally catching up on last year’s Oscar contenders). And as we watched Bad Blake get sucked into a self-destructive vortex, nearly dragging Jean and her son Buddy down with him, I couldn’t help but wonder if chocolate could have helped the situation. I mean, what if after the whole Bad losing Buddy incident, Bad had whipped up a batch of brownies? I think the scene would’ve played out like this:
Jean: Bad, you’re no good. You’ve gotta pull yourself together and until you do, don’t call me. I mean, who in their right mind takes a little boy into a bar and…*sniff sniff* What’s that smell?
Bad: Oh, that? Those are Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. They’re extra-chocolately, super moist, and absolutely addictive. And I made them for us to share.
Bad: Yes, brownies. But please Jean, I didn’t mean to distract you with baked goods. You were saying?
Jean: Well, um, I can’t remember for some reason.
Bad: *Nods knowingly*
Jean: Can I have a glass of milk?
You see? The mere addition of brownies can fix any sticky situation. Just remember that with great brownies comes great responsibility.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
Courtesy of Bon Appetit, February 2011 issue
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
1. Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 (generous) teaspoon of salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).
2. Add eggs to hot mixture 1 and a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
3. Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhand, lift brownies from pan.