Ultimate brownie showdown

for The Brooklyn Paper
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There are lots of recipes for lots of cakes, pies and cookies — but the true benchmark of a baker is his brownies. So while Jacques Torres and the guys from Baked offer two different visions for a sweeter world (see GO Brooklyn’s cover story), those visions collide in a chocolate-, butter- and flour-drenched battleground. Pick your own winner from the two recipes below.

Jacques Torres’s brownies

12 ounces 72-percent chocolate, chopped

¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1½ teaspoons salt

1½ cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

10½ ounces 60-percent chocolate, chopped

2⅔ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped

Chocolate ganache, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15½×10½×1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, or lightly spray it with nonstick vegetable spray.

Place the 72-percent chocolate in the top half of a double boiler and stir occasionally until completely melted. Remove from the heat and beat in the cocoa powder until well blended. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter on low until softened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for about three minutes, until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating for about four minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture and beat just until incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the 60-percent chocolate and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, lightly smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. To test, push the top with your hand. It should feel about as firm as your palm. If you like your brownies a bit fudgy, it is important that they not be overbaked.

If using, spoon the ganache onto the center of the brownies. Using an offset spatula, smooth the ganache out to the edges, taking care to neaten all of the edges. Set aside for about 30 minutes, or until the ganache has set.

Baked brownies

(Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cacao), coarsely chopped

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into one-inch pieces

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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