truly “outrageous” brownies

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As the inspiration for the name of this blog, brownies naturally have a certain sentimental value for me. They remind me of my best friends – our late nights crowded around the TV watching Law and Order: SVU, our candid conversations, and our tendency to drift off into a light sleep after finishing off a warm, comforting square of chocolate-y goodness.

But these brownies – this recipe. They are extra special to me.

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When I first started high school, my mom made a batch of Ina Garten’s infamous “Outrageous Brownies.” As she chopped the chocolate, stirred up the eggs, and assembled the batter, I criticized the recipe for being excessively decadent. “A pound of butter? That’s ridiculous!” I told her. “You don’t need a pound of butter to make good brownies.”

“The recipe makes a lot of brownies, and they’re really good,” she responded.

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After tasting the brownies, I knew that I was right. You don’t need a pound of butter to make good brownies. You do, however, need a pound of butter to make great, no – outrageous, brownies.

Since that time, the recipe stayed in the back of my mind.

I took out this recipe back in April for a friend’s birthday. I had told him about my baking a few months beforehand, promised that I would bake him brownies “sometime.” This was that perfect “sometime.”

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I baked the brownies early on a Sunday morning. As they cooled, I went out and picked up some bakery boxes (the kind with the square “window” in the center), as well as a package of large white baking cups.

When I returned home, I sliced the brownies into generously sized rectangles. I set aside the twelve best looking pieces and carefully placed them in the fluted white baking cups. I then placed them in the big box. Two layers, each layer with two rows of three brownies. I slid the cover on the box and tied a criss-cross of raffia around it.

It was perfect.

The next day, I gave the heavy box of brownies to him. He noted how professional the whole thing looked, and later told me that the brownies were really good. I was happy that the gift went over so well.

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I baked these brownies once again earlier this week – this time, as a “thank you” to my guidance counselor who has always been there for me with advice and support throughout my high school career.

I packaged them up in the same way. Bakery box, fluted cups, raffia. Perfect, once again.

I brought them into her office, the morning heat helping the sweet aroma escape from the box. After talking with her about my baking many times prior, she was incredibly appreciative and excited to finally receive something from my kitchen.

It’s hard to do these brownies justice when describing them. They’re rich in chocolate flavor, smooth and chewy in texture, and just dense enough to be extra satisfying. You have to make them to fully appreciate the greatness of this recipe.

For a happy birthday, for saying “thank you,” and for, well, anything – a pound of butter is more than worth it.

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Outrageous Brownies

 adapted slightly from Ina Garten

- 1 lb. unsalted butter

- 1 lb. plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

- 6 oz. bitter chocolate (100% cocoa)

- 6 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)

- 1 ½ Tbsp. instant espresso grounds

- 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

- 2 ¼ C. granulated sugar

- 1 ¼ C. all-purpose flour

- 1 Tbsp. baking powder

- 1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the bitter chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with the ¼ cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about another 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes our clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly. Cut to desired size and enjoy!

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