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Heart Shaped Box

OK so maybe I got caught up watching the Grammys and never bothered to post the actual recipe for my cutesy heart shaped brownies. (I HAD to see what Gaga was wearing in that egg!) But I ate the heart shaped brownies while watching the Grammys. That must count for something, right?

Normally I make cocoa brownies because cocoa is something that I will keep on hand for chocolate emergencies. Bittersweet chocolate has no shelf life when I'm around, and unsweetened chocolate just seems like a tragedy. However, I was getting low on cocoa and found a random hunk of unsweetened chocolate in the back of my cupboard. Fortunately it was actually labeled 'unsweetened' because let me tell you, the only other way to tell is to taste, and that wouldn't have been pretty.

Since I am a hoarder, I was able to find a fabulous brownie recipe in one of my gazillion cookbooks. Bittersweet by Alice Medrich is one of my faves for chocolate. This recipe uses unsweetened chocolate and is not unlike my recipe for cocoa brownies, except that it uses only one bowl. Bonus! The ice water bath at the end seems a bit much for your average brownie, and could probably be skipped, but it does cool them down to an appropriate eating temperature post haste! (Sorry, it just felt right.)

Once cool, I ordinarily start cutting one little brownie square off after the other until my little brownie 'taste' has turned into one gigantic brownie meal. But just for yucks I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out holiday appropriate shapes. (Little brownie hearts are kinda sorta edgy, no?) You could do that too, or just cut them into little squares and try to stuff them into a heart shaped box. From Duane Reade. Gossip Girl? Nirvana? Anyone?

One Bowl Classic Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil or parchment paper so that it extends beyond the pan. (See photo above and below.) In the top of a double boiler (or large non-reactive mixing bowl) set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt the butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from the heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.

2. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring thoroughly with each addition. Add the flour and stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until the mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add the nuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare a water bath. Pour ice water into a large roasting pan to a depth of just less than 1-inch. Remove the pan from the oven and place it in the water bath, being careful not to splash water on the brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out by the foil or parchment, and cut into 1-inch squares (or hearts!). Makes 16 brownies.

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