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Ad Hoc's Brownies

Brownies have a special place in American cuisine and a special place in the blue-eyeds' hearts (they are, after all, one of our Mummy's signature desserts). 
Um, but they are also kind of low-brow. Like, our Mummy used to whip them up (in about 22 minutes) and serve them poolside during the hot Chicago summers. It was very chic.
And, you can get brownies at ANY DINER IN THE COUNTRY. Of course, people try to gussy them up with ice cream and nuts and call them brownie sundaes, but really, we all know what they really are.  Not that it's a bad thing. Like chocolate chip cookies. Good, simple, easy to make and easy to eat in little handheld portions. They satisfy every time. 
But, you wouldn't exactly serve brownies for dessert when the boss is coming for dinner. 
Although, side note, whose boss actually comes for dinner these days? I mean, seriously. It's the boss who should be taking you out to dinner...somewhere fancy and expensive. Somewhere they prolly don't serve brownies for dessert. The boss makes more money than you so, uh, why would he/she expect you to slave over a hot meal? Treat your employees to a nice meal, Bosses. Geez.
This message is brought to you by the Blue-Eyed Bakers.
Anyhoo. Where were we? Oh, yes. The humble brownie. Well, despite what we just said about how the boss should not come to dinner, if he/she were to come to dinner you could TOTALLY serve these Ad Hoc Brownies for dessert. They are dense and moist and not-too-sweet and holy richness, Batman! You should definitely serve them with glasses of the fanciest milk you can buy. They are like the Mercedes of brownies. Nay, the Ferraris. 
Ad Hoc is a fashionable yet casual spot in Yountville, California just north of Napa. It was created by the genius Thomas Keller as a temporary spot that he could serve honest, fresh meals to diners while he waited for another restaurant to be built next door. The concept of Ad Hoc was such a success, however, that he kept it open. They serve one menu a night to all patrons and pretty much always sell out. Why? Because EVERYTHING is the Ferrari of food. The fried chicken is the greatest thing you have ever tasted. The cole slaw is like butter. The butter is like butter. And, the brownies, well...
Ad Hoc's Brownies
Makes 12-18 bars
Adapted from Thomas Keller

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (we used Valrhona)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
6 ounces of 61 to 64% chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces (we used Scharffen Berger 62% Semi-Sweet but you could easily substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips and it would still taste amazing)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan in metal or glass or use a silicone one. Note, if you have an 8-inch square pan you will have to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. Set aside the pan.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

Microwave half the butter in a medium bowl until melted.  Add the remaining butter to the melted butter and stir to melt further. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thick and very pale and resembling custard in thickness. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the melted, cooled butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Add the chopped chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If the pick comes out wet, test a second time, because you may have hit a piece of chocolate chip; then bake for a few more minutes longer if necessary. Cool in the pan until the brownie is just a bit warmer than room temperature.

Run a knife around the edges if not using a silicone mold, and invert the brownie onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 thick rectangles. Dust the tops with powdered sugar just before serving.

The brownies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Reader Comments (8)

Those brownies look outrageous! That cocoa is amazing so I'm sure the brownies are especially good!

I'm on a diet, but now I'm craving for brownies!!!! These are diet-friendly....right????!! ;)

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPretty. Good. Food.

Mmmmm! I'm having a serious brownie craving right now!

The "Scharffen Berger 62% Semi-Sweet " makes such a difference, certainly brownies is one of those things where quality items make them that much yummier.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBanana

These look absolutely incredible! I think I've gone into a chocolate coma just looking at these - I can't wait to give them a try!

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea @ Vegvacious

Oh my goodness...I think I'm going to make these into s'mores brownies. Do you think they'd bake fine with a graham cracker crust on the bottom? I might put them into a 9x13 too, because they'll be awfully rich with a marshmallow cream ribbon through the center and mini marshmallows browned on i can.not.wait to try them!

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSierra

For the record - I did make them into s'mores brownies, and they were awesome!

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSierra

you had me at "ad hoc". I've had the privilege of eating there and you're's just so...yeah. anyway...i must must must make this. i must. :-)

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpam

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