The great Katherine Hepburn once quipped: “What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” Reason enough to always keep a stash of it close at hand. Another very valid reason: so you can whip up some of the delicious chocolate-based recipes in the excellent Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books). If anyone knows a thing or two about chocolate cookery it’s the Guittards; the San Francisco-based family has been churning out top-notch artisanal chocolate for the professional baker and us home cooks for almost 150 years and great great granddaughter Amy who oversees marketing for the brand also authored this very cookbook. The sixty chocolatey recipes, many of them with accompanying personal stories, are mostly designed to be approachable for home cooks of every level, though there is one chapter by Guittard’s resident executive pastry chef, Donald Wressell, that is for the more ambitious (think chocolate diamantes and roasted marmalade chocolate tart). But for us, when it comes to chocolate, it’s all about the classics, like an excellent brownie. Guittard’s cocoa brownie recipe results in one with an intense chocolate flavor and a texture that is more cakey, less fudgey; just the way we like it. And while this brownie needs nothing to be delectable, top it with a scoop of salty caramel ice cream and you just might reach chocolate nirvana. FV
For a fudgier brownie, you start with a pot of melted chocolate. For a cakier brownie, you use cocoa powder. You might be wondering how cocoa powder can result in a brownie that’s as delicious as one made with melted chocolate, but it does. In fact, it was my grandfather’s favorite. Here’s the secret: Dutch-processed cocoa powder gives a familiar chocolate flavor, sometimes referred to as that nostalgic “Oreo cookie” flavor. The cocoa powder used in this recipe, Cocoa Rouge, has a distinct mahogany color that gives the brownies a beautiful red tone. Brownies made with Cocoa Rouge will be moist, soft, and intensely chocolatey. This brownie is perfect for an afternoon snack or as the base for a brownie sundae.
1 1⁄4 cups [150 g] all-purpose flour
1 1⁄4 cups [120 g] Guittard Cocoa Rouge (Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder)
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 1⁄2 cups [330 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 cups [600 g] sugar
7 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups [220 g] chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Line a 9-by-13-by-2-in [23-by-33-by-5-cm] baking pan with aluminum foil, covering the bottom, up the sides, and hanging about 1 in [2.5 cm] over the sides.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and glossy. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until smooth and free of lumps. Stir in the walnuts (if using). Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out bearing some moist crumbs. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. When ready to serve, carefully use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan. Place the brownies on a cutting board, discard the foil, and cut them into 2-in [5-cm] squares. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 1 week. To freeze, cut into four large sections and remove from the pan. Wrap the sections tightly in plastic wrap. Place the sections in a zip-top freezer bag and push out all the air. Freeze for up to 1 month. Let the wrapped sections defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
MAKES TWENTY-FOUR 2-IN [5-CM] BROWNIES