All’s Well That Ends Well

January 24, 2010

I began this last week feeling an incredible amount of pressure as the host of this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays baking. I am a member of two on-line baking groups: Tuesdays With Dorie (I may have a chance to choose a recipe and host the weekly baking in 2020 if I’m lucky) and Sweet Melissa Sundays.  While I often bake along with both groups, I lead an extremely busy life and to write about my baking experiences, get a picture of what I’ve completed, and visit the blogs of my fellow bakers is sometimes more than I can manage. Could I be a responsible host?

Knowing that I was “in charge” of the baking assignment this week and needed to be responsible meant I had to start the process way in advance.  I carefully surveyed the cookbook, consulted with my daughters and ultimately decided to choose Black Bottom Brownies. I have two favorite brownie recipes that I typically make during the holidays: Cappuccino Brownies (an old recipe from Gourmet that includes about a pound of bittersweet chocolate, produces rich brownies, cream cheese frosting and a chocolate ganache glaze) and the Cream Cheese brownie recipe from Stars Desserts. Both are amazing!!!! I was a bit reluctant to choose Melissa’s recipe, because I was worried that it couldn’t possibly compete with these two other favorites (more on that later). My older daughter, Cameron, was adamant that this was the recipe to choose and I agreed to go along with her suggestion.

So, the choice had been made and the week before “my Sunday” was coming up. I thought I would bake the brownies in advance so I could be a resource to other bakers during the week. Somehow the weekend came and went and I didn’t have the time to bake. I was absolutely determined that I was NOT going to be baking frantically on Sunday morning or somehow shirk my hosting responsibilities. I rarely bake during the week, but this week I had about 2 ½ hours free on Wednesday and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bake the Black Bottom Brownies. I was ecstatic.

I began by turning on the oven.  So far so good. It was really from that point on that the baking became a comedy of errors. First, I discovered that I needed unsweetened chocolate, not bittersweet (I had just purchased a large block of Scharffenberger Bittersweet for this recipe). I clearly did not have time to buy unsweetened, so I turned to my old friend, Bittersweet by Alice Medrich. She has gotten me through some tough times in my baking life. Broken ganache? Medrich has the solution. Need to substitute bittersweet chocolate for unsweetened in a recipe (absolutely!). Medrich could tell me how. So, I got the proportions of chocolate, butter, and sugar under control and learned that if I had used Melissa’s original recipe with unsweetened chocolate, I wouldn’t have had enough sugar. So, the chocolate fiasco was a blessing in disguise. Then, after putting the recipe together, I realized I would have to leave in about one hour to take my younger daughter to her unicycle class, but Melissa reports that baking time is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Yikes! I threw the brownies in the oven, kept my fingers crossed and hoped that my using a metal 9×13 inch pan would miraculously impact the baking time. After one hour, the brownies appeared lightly browned and firm and even if they were not done….I had to leave. I took them out of the oven and hoped that the brownies would be edible.

My fears were not realized. Even with the wrong chocolate and inadequate baking time, this recipe resulted in PERFECT BROWNIES! So, I had a few worries along the way…All’s well that ends well and this ended very well. While my iPhone photo (Sorry!!! I can’t seem to get the photo on this post. I will keep trying and add it ASAP) does not do my baking creation justice, these brownies are rich, fudgy, and the perfect combination of chocolate and cream cheese. While I cannot imagine cutting them into 12 squares (mine made more like 20), I will come back to this recipe again and again. Thanks, Melissa, for a new brownie recipe that easily stands up to some of my other favorites. Hmmm, maybe I need to have one now. Hope you enjoyed them too.

Black Bottom Brownies

From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

(All substitutions are in italics and done according to Medrich’s instructions in Bittersweet)

For the Brownie Bottom

6 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate (I used 10 ounces of Scharffenberger bittersweet chocolate)

½ pound unsalted butter (I used 14 T. because of the chocolate substitution)

1 2/3 cups flour

½ t. baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

2 cups sugar (I used 1 ½ cups plus 2 T. sugar)

1 T. pure vanilla extract

For the Cheesecake

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 large eggs

1 ½ t. pure vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9×13 pan. Line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil (I used aluminum foil and then lightly buttered it, as well. I would not butter the pan as noted in the future. I found it difficult to get the chilled brownies out of the pan because the buttered pan stuck to the foil).

  1. In the top of a double boiler over simmering, not boiling water, melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool to warm.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and combine with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate/egg mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and the salt until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the brownie layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the cheesecake layer.
  7. Bake for about one hour and 15 minutes (I felt they were done after about one hour, but I used a metal pan) or until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely ( I cooled them on the counter for several hours and then in the refrigerator overnight).
  8. May be served cold or at room temperature. Store the brownies in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. For longer storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Don not uncover before defrosting.

9 Responses to “All’s Well That Ends Well”

  1. jane S Says:

    i love these brownies too and they freeze well. I have been watching and waiting for your next post. well done!!!

  2. Susan Says:

    We weren’t as crazy about these as some others I have made. But, I am happy to have baked along with you. Glad “all ended well”! Oh, I am also in TWD and think it will be around the same time as you that I get to pick a recipe! 😀

  3. Nina Says:

    Thanks for hosting this week! They were pretty good; I have to admit that freezing them would be the best idea for me to give to friends later.

  4. Tracey Says:

    Thanks for hosting this week Cynthia! I’m glad that these turned out so well for you – it’s always a nice treat when the recipe you choose for your pick ends up being a favorite 🙂 Thanks for the tip on the unsweetened chocolate substitution – that’s a handy one!

  5. Margot Says:

    Thanks for hosting this week! I like how it was a collaborative decision choosing the recipe. I almost sat out this week, but went ahead and made them. My boyfriend thought they were better than the cheesecake brownies we made for TWD a while back.

    I agree that it is exciting to choose a recipe, but slightly stressful at the same time.

  6. Leslie Says:

    Thanks for picking a great recipe and hosting for us this week. I’m glad all of your obstacles were overcome and you came through with a solid hit!

  7. Melissa Says:

    Great choice! I kept trying to get my husband to eat one, and when he finally did, he thought they were the best brownies ever!

  8. Stephanie Says:

    Good pick this week, Cynthia! I really enjoyed them! Thanks!! I’m glad yours worked despite the scares! 🙂

  9. Julie Says:

    I was out of town for this one ( posted remotely). Thanks for choosing a great recipe and glad yours turned out well.

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