a birthday wish delivered

Yesterday was my roommate Alyssa’s birthday. Alyssa lives in New Jersey, but I wasn’t going to let distance stand in the way of sending her a freshly-baked birthday package. When pondering about what to make her, I immediately thought chocolate. That, coupled with a desire to send her something Floridian, inspired me to bake her a batch of aptly named Palm Beach Brownies, which are fudgy, dense, and espresso-flavored.

The recipe is from Maida Heatter, the famous South Florida queen of desserts. I spoke to Alyssa yesterday who is enjoying the brownies with her family and fearing potential weight gain when my baking habits soon inhabit our dorm.

(Recipe after the jump)

Maida Heatter’s Palm Beach Brownies

8 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
2 cups walnuts, toasted (optional)
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp powdered instant espresso
3 3/4 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups flour — sifted

Adjust an oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9×11×2-inch pan with foil. Brush well with melted butter. (I used parchment)

Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat or in a small, heavy saucepan on low heat, stirring occasionally. When combined, remove from heat and set aside.

Break the walnuts into pieces if necessary, trying to keep them fairly large. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the vanilla and almond extracts, salt, espresso and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour and nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan from front to back once to ensure even baking. At the end of 35 minutes, the cake will have a firm crust, but when tested with a toothpick will appear underbaked. Do not be concerned, it is done.

Remove the pan from the oven and let stand until cool. Invert the brownies onto a cookie sheet and remove the foil. Cover with length of waxed paper and another cookie sheet. Invert again. This cake must be covered and refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before it is cut into bars.

Makes 32 brownies.

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