No slumber party with my nephew is complete without a baking adventure in my kitchen. The Little Chef came over the other night while his parents went out for their anniversary dinner, and when I presented him with a few different scrumptious-looking goodies on my To Bake list, he naturally chose the most decadent option. (Is this kid related to me or what?) I’d had my eye on these Browned Butter Brownies for quite some time, and I was really happy for an excuse to make them with my little buddy.
These brownies were the cover recipe in the February 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. They are the creation of Alice Medrich, whose masterful book Bittersweet continues to give me great insight and understanding when it comes to working with chocolate. This recipe is similar to her Best Cocoa Brownies in Bittersweet, as both recipes produce a brownie with the most incredible soft texture and a crisp candylike crust on top. In this sublime version, the butter is cooked to a speckled brown before being blended with the cocoa and the rest of the ingredients. This simple-yet-ingenius step imparts a layer of fabulous nuttiness that dances perfectly in tandem with the richness of the cocoa.
As the Little Chef and I measured out dry ingredients and got to work browning the butter, I told him a story about my first year in New York when I cooked for a family in exchange for room and board. During my interview with them, I informed them that I had years of cooking experience, having trailed my mom in the kitchen since I was six years old. I made a point of telling them I had been occasionally hired to make cakes when I was in college and had actually catered post-concert receptions for friends. I was elated when I got the job.
Now I’m not sure what kind of cooks they’d had before I moved in because it took them a while to trust me in the kitchen. Eventually I won them over, but it was a long process that began with what I refer to as the Brownie Mix Incident.