Pink roses have been peeking through my bedroom window all week. The beautiful hues and the big fluffy petals have been making me think of chocolate. I know . . . that might not make sense immediately.
Could it be because the petals remind me of cotton candy, bringing my mind to sweets? Or maybe it’s because pink and chocolate brown look so good together? Or perhaps it’s that these flowers are simply lovely — just like chocolate. Whatever the reason, these pretty pink roses led me to make a version of Maida Heatter’s delectable Palm Beach Brownies!
My mom has been making these brownies since Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts came out 1980. These brownies are somewhat legendary in my family and in the close circle of friends I grew up with. (You know who you are!) I hadn’t made these for years, and I was so excited to crack this wonderful cookbook open again. I just love how tattered and chocolate-stained most of the pages are. This book has been cherished and loved.
I add a bit more espresso powder because I think it makes the chocolate even more intense, and I put giant Ghirardelli chocolate bars in the center. I omit the almond extract and the walnuts – I’m just not a fan of nuts in my brownies! I also lowered the oven temp to 375 degrees, since my mom had long ago penciled in this change in the book.
I think the oh-so-incredible Maida Heatter describes these perfectly: “These are the biggest, thickest, gooiest, chewiest, darkest, sweetest, mostest-of-the-most chocolate bars with an almost wet middle and a crisp-crunchy top.” And what could be better than that?!
(Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts)
Makes 2 dozen large brownies
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Baking Time: 35 minutes
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Scharffen Berger is my favorite.)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon for the pan)
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder (Medaglia D’Oro is great.)
3-3/4 cups sugar
1-2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 (4-ounce) semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate bars
Adjust the rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line a 9x13x2-inch pan with foil. Butter the foil with soft or melted butter. The easiest way to do this is to add the butter to the foil-lined pan and place it in the hot oven for a minute or so. Then use a pastry brush — or the butter wrapper — to make sure the butter evenly coats the bottom and sides of the foil.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat — or in a heavy saucepan over very low heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted. Stir to mix, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs with the vanilla, salt, espresso, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes. On low speed, add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed. Then add the flour and again beat only until mixed.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape about half to two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, and place the three chocolate bars on top. Then pour the remaining batter on top. Smooth this layer also, covering all of the chocolate bars evenly and completely.
Bake for about 35 minutes, reversing the pan front to back as necessary during the baking to ensure it bakes evenly. Cover loosely with foil for about the last half of the baking time to prevent over-browning. At the end of 35 minutes, the brownies will have a thick, crisp crust on top, but if you insert a toothpick into the middle, it will come out wet and covered with chocolate. And that’s exactly what you want. They’re done!
Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool for at least a few hours. If you can, refrigerate the them overnight before cutting. A serrated bread knife will cut them easily.
If the brownies were baked correctly, the edges should be dark and maybe a bit dry. I love this part – it’s chewy and delicious. If, however, you find it too hard, trim about 1/4-inch or as necessary from the edge.
To see what my deal is with food and flowers, read this article.