Years back, my friend Wendy gifted me with box of “Valerie” salted caramels that were fabulous. At first, I thought Wendy had bought them for the name, but one bite in it was clear these were the real deal — crunchy, salty, sweet, and delicious. I’ve been a fan of Valerie Confections ever since.
When I heard on the radio about Sweet, Valerie’s new cookbook, I hit Amazon as soon as I got back to the house. I don’t normally seek out dessert cookbooks, I tend to stick with the basics when it comes to sweets, but this book is a new classic. All the recipes and images are beautiful. Everything is simple, straightforward, traditional and delectable. This book gladly wedged itself into a prime spot in my collection.
Full disclosure on the above picture: As I was laying this out to snap a pretty photo I forgot the sugar and salt. I then proceeded to make the first batch of brownies sans sugar and salt. Please bake as I say, not as I do.
Sweet’s arrival on my doorstep and a last minute girls’ night happened simultaneously. Girlfriend + brownies = good combination. I am rather picky when it comes to brownies (surprise, surprise) and these are fantastic— not too cakey, not too fudgy, they’re just right. For the party, I fancied them up by laying a doily over the top and giving a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.
Here’s it is, my new go-to brownie recipe. Which you’ll most likely bake tonight, because there is something about brownies that once you think about them you can’t stop until you’ve made them and eaten half the pan. I’m not sure whether to say you’re welcome or I’m sorry.
Adapted slightly from Valerie Gordon’s Sweet
Makes 9 large or 18 small brownies
Note: I’ve made these with and without the addition of the chocolate chips, both versions are good. The chips makes for a richer fudgy texture and without chips has a more cakey texture. I’ll leave it to you decide your brownie texture profile-there’s probably a buzzfeed quiz out there that could tell you.
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
3 ounces 99% unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
¾ all purpose flour
½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chip (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9×9 square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (it makes it easier to lift the brownies out). If you have a pan like mine where the bottom lifts out, all it needs is a hit of cooking spray.
Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of boiling water. Stir occasionally, you want it to be smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. If you used a double boiler, pour the chocolate/butter into a bowl — it will help cool more quickly.
Stir both sugars into the chocolate mixture and then stir to combine. Mix in the eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl mix the flour, chocolate chips and salt together. Add to the wet mixture along with the vanilla. Stir gently until combined.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a crust forms and the center appears dry. Use a toothpick to check- (we aren’t looking for a clean toothpick, we want small crumbs sticking to the wood). Let the brownies cool in a pan for at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack before cutting with a sharp knife.
Once cooled, the brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days (like that will happen).