For some reason autumn always makes me want to read Wind and the Willows. I love the descriptions of the foods, the antics of the characters, most of all I love Badger’s house.
I love the idea of blustery days and wind whipping the last of the crimson leaves from the massive trees. I love the thought of sharing a meal with my family around the table and watching the firelight flicker. I love the sound of the geese flying over and the look of pumpkins in the stores.
It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. ~P.D. James
I live in Texas. We buy sleds for the one day in a three year period there is enough sleet on the ground to allow it to slide. We do summer very well here, fall and winter? Not so much.
Still, it is the idea of it, the feeling, the fantasy… and I love autumn or fall or whatever you want to call it. I like the foods and the colors, the aromas, and the textures. And I like to celebrate those things any way I can.
Brownies are one of my favorite things to make because they are quick, easy, and versatile. You can take almost any good brownie recipe and add things until you have something that is tailor made for your daily craving. My personal philosophy on brownies, though, is that they should be rich and fudgy. I mean if I want cake I will make cake, you know?
These brownies are rich and fudgy to the nth degree. The texture is smooth and and creamy with a sticky crumb. They are moist enough that you can pull them apart and then stick them back together. If you like them a little more cakey then let them bake a touch longer. Be careful, though. Overbaking will totally ruin both the texture and the flavor of these brownies.
The flavor catches you by surprise. You get the chocolate..and then the caramely-nutty flavor of the browned butter, followed by the spices; faintly warm and cozy. Then you get another wave of the butter and chocolate which lingers until you take another bite. Oh, and you will take another bite. And another…
There is more salt in here than I usually add. It is not a typo. Use a good Kosher salt because the saltiness is needed to balance the flavor. You can even add a sprinkle of fleur de sel on top if you like.
The brown butter is essential to the flavor here. The trick to getting the most flavor out of the butter is to use a heavy pan (I love le Crueset for this) and let the butter melt slowly, then continue to leave it on the heat and allow it to turn to a rich golden amber. You’ll need to watch it carefully and stir once in awhile.
Organic white flour, dark cocoa, cinnamon, spice and everything nice! That’s what these brownies are made of….
Mixing the sugar into the hot, browned butter allows the crystals to disolve. This is an important part of the final texture of the brownies.
images: (c) 2010 marye audet