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Recipe: Brownies

Makes 12 Brownies

Brownies embody so much of what I love about dessert generally — they remind me of family, comfort, childhood. They draw you to them. You can turn these into a special dessert by serving them alongside caramel ice cream or with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, but they're great with just a little whipped cream or powdered sugar — or all by themselves.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
6 ounces 61- to 64- percent chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. We use a 9-inch square silicone mold, because it keeps the edges from overcooking; if you use a metal or glass baking pan, butter and our it. Set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer tted with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining our and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a piece of chocolate chip; then bake for a few minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature. Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Excerpted from Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller. Copyright 2009 by Artisan.

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