Cooking is something I want to be really good at. And to be really good at anything, first you have to learn to follow the rules, and then once you've mastered the art, you can break the rules all you want, and then it's called ingenuity. But if you never follow the rules and just do your own thing from the start, you'll never reach mastery of anything. This goes for poetry, music, painting, science, exegesis, driving, language, you name it. Every medium has its limits, and you must first learn to respect those limits before you break them.
But I get bored following all the rules. Which is probably why I'm the jill-of-all-trades type. I learn just enough about something so I can improvise because my goal is always to create something new. (Okay, maybe not with driving, but you get my point.) I run into this issue a lot with sewing. I have a really hard time completely following a pattern. I also have issues following recipes. I like to add my own ideas, change things up, bring something into existence that has never existed before!!! It's just more exciting for me that way. And maybe the end product is not always "better" than the result the recipe or the pattern or the rules stipulated. But it's an exercise in imagination, and I think that's more important.
But then I bought a bag of King Arthur Flour. And on the back was the recipe for "The Best Fudge Brownies Ever." Now I am sure that plenty of people have made that claim, but when King Arthur makes a claim about a baked good, you best listen. So I did. I made the recipe without one single alteration. And let me tell you...these are the best fudge brownies ever. So here, for your culinary pleasure--without alteration or interference from your truly (except to say that I used ghirardelli cocoa and mini chocolate chips)--is the recipe:
"There's no dessert more satisfying than a warm, fudgy brownie; and we daresay these are the best brownies you'll ever bake. Cut through the shiny, delicate top crust to reveal a deep-dark, rich, super-moist brownie underneath, perfect with a cold glass of milk (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)."
The Best Fudge Brownies Ever
1 cup (8 ounces) butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups Duth-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips
*Increase the salt to 1 teaspoon if you use unsalted butter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.
In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it's hot, but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. (Heating the butter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.) Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating until smooth; then add the flour and chocolate chips, beating until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes, until a cake tested inserted into the center comes out dry (though it may have a few crumbs clinging to it). The brownies should feel set both on the edges, and in the center. Remove them from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges with a table knife. (This helps prevent the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool.) Cool completely before cutting and serving. Yield: 2 dozen brownies.
(Disclaimer: I forgot to take a picture of my brownies. This is a picture from the King Arthur website from a similar recipe.)
Is your tummy growling yet? Mine sure is. I am thoroughly taken by these brownies. Those of you well versed in the art of brownie-making will know that these are just a touch on the cakey side due to the 4 eggs. So that means they're not quite as chewy as box brownies. For a long time, I thought box brownies were the pinnacle of browniedom. But there's just something about brownies made from scratch. They're just so satisfying. Jason thinks they're a little on the rich side. He's probably right. It's a good idea to make these when you have a few friends to help with the consumption. And seriously, friends and homemade brownies? It doesn't get much better than that.
edit: Blogging about these brownies today was just slightly tortuous. So I resolved to make them as soon as I got home from work. I trudged home through the rain salivating over these deliciocities. And lo and behold, I walked in the door and was greeted by the most fantastic husband ever and a pan of freshly baked "best fudge brownies ever." Yeah, I know. You are all jealous. And you should be. These brownies (and Jason too) rock my face off!