"Everyone loves brownies," write Joan Steuer and Rick Rodgers in their new cookbook, "Best-Ever Brownies" (Contemporary Books; $7.95 softcover).
"We define the 'best-ever brownie' as moist and rich with pronounced deep chocolate flavor," they say. "It is dense and fudgy in the center, but never wet. The edges are chewy, but never dry. The brownie has a slightly shiny top with few, if any, cracks."
The origin of the brownie is uncertain, the authors say. Most cookbooks favor the theory that the brownie was named for its characteristic deep-brown color. However, one of the earliest brownie recipes ever written appears in the original 1896 version of the "Fanny Farmer Cookbook" -- and doesn't contain a trace of chocolate!
Steuer and Rodgers offer up 76 recipes, including Traditional Fudgy Brownies, Chocolate-Chocolate Brownie Chunk Cheesecake and Brownie Muffins, with tips on baking, decorating brownies and handling chocolate.
The Best-Ever Triple Chocolate Brownies
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (one 6-ounce package)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour an eight-inch square baking pan, tapping out excess flour.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat, add unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates; let stand one minute. Whisk until smooth. Let stand until tepid, about ten minutes.
In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat eggs, brown sugar and corn syrup for two minutes until light in color. Add vanilla, then beat in chocolate mixture, just until blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour, baking soda and salt, just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted one-inch from the side of the pan comes out with a moist crumb. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Makes 12 brownies.