Cake-like brownies unite two beloved elements in a baker’s repertoire: cake and chocolate. To intensify the flavors in these brownies, add the seed scrapings from a vanilla bean (or add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract) and stir in 1 cup of semisweet chips. After you bake and cool the brownies, when you cut them into bars, you’ll notice that they’re lighter than dense, fudgy versions you may know. This is due in part to the technique of creaming the butter (first alone, then with the sugar) before adding the remaining ingredients, instead of melting the butter and chocolate first. For your valentine or any chocolate lover who deserves a treat, these are intense.
Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
Seed scrapings from 1 small vanilla bean
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a bowl over hot but not boiling water, melt the unsweetened chocolate. Remove the bowl from the water, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set the chocolate aside to cool.
3. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.
4. In a smaller bowl, toss the chips with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture.
5. In an electric mixer, cream the butter at medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat 2 minutes more. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, add the melted chocolate, then the flour mixture, beating only until blended.
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large metal spoon, stir in the chips.
7. Transfer the batter to the baking pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top.
8. Bake the brownies for 40 minutes or until just set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Make 4 lengthwise cuts and 3 horizontal cuts to form 20 bars. Cut each bar in half. Use a small offset spatula to remove the brownies from the pan. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Just before serving, dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar. Lisa Yockelson