Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Favorite Chocolate Dessert: Brownie Pudding

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I don't have to flinch before declaring my favorite non-fussy chocolate dessert: Brownie Pudding. Just reading those words warms my heart and my tummy. I've made this dessert for so many friends over the past couple of years, but none love it as much as my friend Christina.  She makes this dessert whenever she has a special occasion, and Christina has no interest in recipes involving many steps and lots of labor.  My favorite recipes deliver the most "wow" factor with minimal work, and this one fits the bill.  I love this dessert because it even though its super easy to make, it will blow your friends away!

I've said this before, but if I have two weaknesses it's brownies and Cheez-Its.  Not necessarily together, but I don't have a problem with mixing them either.  If there is a brownie or a Cheez-It within a 1000 ft. radius, I will find them and I will crush them.  Self-control goes out the window.  It's no different with this dessert:  the only problem with this dish is portion control!  It's very easy to serve up a huge portion, and it's really hard to stop eating it.  No joke: I've overdosed on this dessert on more than one occasion.  (An Oscar party with my friend Heather circa 2009 comes to mind.)  Trust me...a little really does go a long way.  And if you overdose on this rich treat, don't say I didn't warn you!

There's only a few ingredients, so make them good.  Use good cocoa powder and real vanilla extract.  First, melt two sticks of unsalted butter either in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave, and let cool.  (NOTE: do not leave your bowl of melted butter in the snow on your back porch to cool if you have a dog.  This is a TERRIBLE idea, for you and for your dog.  Poor Milo.  The allure of butter is a weakness for the four-legged creatures as well.) Add the eggs and the sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high for 5-10 minutes until thick and creamy.  

In the meantime, sift the cocoa powder and the flour together in a bowl.  When the eggs are done, add the vanilla extract and the cocoa/flour mixture slowly, and mix only until just combined (overmixing any batter makes it tough).  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter on low speed.  Pour into a buttered oval baking dish (9x12x2 inches). 

The only slightly tricky part of this recipe is that the dish needs to cook in a water bath for gentle, even baking.  The way that I do this is to place a large 9x13 inch pan in the oven, then place the oval brownie dish inside.  Finally, I fill my tea pot with the hottest tap water and pour that into the large rectangular dish until the water comes halfway up the oval pan.   Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Baking the pudding in the water bath helps it cook evenly and gently.

The consistency you're looking for is, simply put, undercooked brownies.  The dish gets a lovely crust on the top, and the insides are still ooey gooey.  Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy a delicious Valentine's day treat!

I crushed this bowl of brownie goodness as soon as I was done snapping this picture.

Brownie Pudding

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

2 sticks unsalted butter
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 9x12x2 inch oval pan with nonstick spray.  Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.  With the paddle attachment, mix the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer on medium-high for 5-10 minutes or until thick and creamy.  On low speed, add the vanilla extract and the cocoa/flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Slowly pour in the melted butter until just combined. 

Pour the mixture into the greased oval baking dish.  Place a larger pan in the oven (I use a 9x13 inch casserole pan), then place the oval dish inside the casserole pan.  Fill the larger rectangular pan with the hottest tap water until it reaches about halfway up the oval dish.  Bake for exactly 1 hour.  Let cool slightly, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy! xo H


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