We’ve all reached for a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix when that irresistible urge for something sweet and chocolate-y hits us. And while they’re tasty, out-of-the-box brownies are never quite as satisfying as their homemade counterparts from the local bakery (or from your home oven).
Why do we buy box mixes when making brownies at home is as easy as saying your ABCS? Well, laziness and convenience mostly, but these can easily be changed. With a well-stocked pantry, making a batch of brownies will be almost as easy as dumping that box mix into a bowl and adding oil and eggs. With just one or two extra steps, you can have perfectly moist, walnut-studded brownies with a slightly crunchy crust and hint of amaretto—just like those ones you buy from the bakery around the corner for $2.50 a pop.
I’ve searched high and low for the perfect brownie recipe, and I’ve found one that’s finally come pretty close to perfection. In my mind—and there are differing opinions about this—the perfect brownie should be somewhere between cake and fudge, with a hint of each peeking through in its texture. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then this might not be your recipe, but I suggest you give it a try. Maybe it’ll be your perfect brownie recipe, too. If not, just keep on baking until you find the perfect one. If you like cakey brownies, I suggest Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies. If you like them with a little more chew like the boxed variety, check out Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies from its March/April 2010 issue.
Walnut-Studded Amaretto Brownies
This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence. Make your own double boiler by putting a glass, metal or Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Be sure the bowl does not touch the water; this is an indirect heating method. Makes about 24 brownies. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs
2 c. sugar
¼ c. amaretto liqueur
1½ c. chopped walnuts or pecans
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Prep pan and chocolate. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, making sure paper hangs over the edges. Grease paper with butter so the brownies don’t stick. Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler and stir gently until smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Make and bake brownies. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs, sugar and amaretto in a large mixing bowl until combined. Pour in chocolate mixture and continue to whisk until combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, reserving about 2 tablespoons of flour to toss with chopped walnuts. add walnuts and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Transfer batter to pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost completely clean when inserted into the middle of the pan. Remove from oven. Let cool for 30-40 minutes. Using parchment, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into squares, garnish with powdered sugar and serve.