While in Ottawa, Emily and Paul introduced me to a new cookbook which I am absolutely fascinated with: The Science of Good Cooking written by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen! (Bobby, my birthday is January 31). It is the perfect crash course on “food science” paired with every basic recipe you could fathom. Each recipe includes straightforward descriptions and images to help cooks really understand the results you can expect from using different ingredients, quantities and techniques.
For example: brownies. How does that smooth, shiny, crackled sheen appear on the surface of a perfect brownie? Sugar! The authors tested a classic, chewy brownie recipe using brown sugar, white granulated sugar and a combination of brown sugar and corn syrup. It turns out that granulated sugar reflects light in a way that creates that glass-like texture. I’m curious how organic cane sugar (which I will test next!) might affect the results. And of course, the sheen is a quality that you might be willing to forego!
We added lavender to this decadent and subtly sweet recipe, adding a soft and sophisticated overtone that was truly addictive. We topped warm brownie squares with fresh whipped cream and raspberry sauce fromMillstone Farm’s harvest last summer. Oh boy, this recipe is a keeper.
- Cocoa - 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- Water - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
- Unsweetened chocolate - 2 ounces, chopped fine
- Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted butter - 4 tablespoons, melted
- Eggs - 2 large eggs
- Egg yolks - 2 large egg yolks (save the whites for omelettes)
- Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- Granulated sugar - 2.5 cups
- All-purpose flour - 1 3/4 cups
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Lavender - 2 teaspoons dried lavender, crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
- Bittersweet chocolate - 6 ounces, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Whipped Cream:
- Heavy cream -
- Sugar -
- Vanilla extract -
- Move the oven rack to the lowest rung and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking pan with two sheets of foil, overlapping on the bottom of the pan. Grease the foil.
- In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk to mix the cocoa and boiling water together until smooth. Add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
- Whisk in the oil and butter until smooth again.
- Add the eggs, yolks and vanilla and continue to whisk the mixture.
- Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated.
- In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Use a rubber spatula to stir the flour mixture into the brownie batter.
- Stir in the crushed lavender and fold in the bittersweet chocolate pieces.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread the batter into the corners, creating a smooth, even surface.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the the pan halfway through baking).
- Transfer the pan to a cool surface or wire rack and allow the brownies to cool for about 1 hour or more. Use the foil to lift the brownies from the pan, and return the brownies to the wire rack to cool completely. For serving, reheat the brownies in a toaster oven, microwave or oven. Store extra brownies in an airtight container - they won't last long!
- While the brownies are cooling, whip the cream! Add the cream to a medium bowl and using a hand beater(quick results) or a fork (slow results) whip the cream into firm, stiff peaks, adding the sugar and vanilla last.
- Note: You can try steeping the lavender in the boiling water instead of adding crushed, dried lavender. This may add a more robust lavender flavor to the brownies.
Allergens: dairy, eggs