Yesterday was a Summer Friday, which means I only have to work a half day. I get to go home at lunchtime and spend the afternoon feeling guilty that Pookie’s stuck at work. So I decided that I should use my afternoon for good instead of evil this week, and, after discussing with Pookie what kind of baked good sweets we’d want for the weekend, settled on making brownies. Now, I have a tried-and-true brownie recipe (from Baking Illustrated), but the idea of making those really bored me. I wanted something new and exciting (I know — in a brownie? Dream on!), so I turned to my woefully under-used From My Home To Yours Dorie Greenspan cookbook. She’s got a whole section on brownies, fudgy traditional ones, super-thin swanky ones, smooth cakey ones, all kinds. None of them were jumping out at me, until I hit page 94, with its “Chipster-Topped Brownies”.
So what is a Chipster-Topped Brownie? Why, it’s a layer of brownie and a layer of chocolate-chip cookie, of course! BRILLIANT!
The deal with these starts out pretty simply — you preheat the oven to 350 (F), grease a 9×13 pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and then grease the paper. Then you put the pan on a baking sheet.
Next, you make the brownies:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Combine the chocolates and butter in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. [I actually only had two ounces of unsweetened chocolate, by the way, and just used 7 oz. bittersweet to make up for it. I ended up adding more salt at the end because the batter ended up a wee bit too sweet.] Stirring occasionally, heat just until the ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high spped for about two minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then, still on low speed, add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the batter. [Dorie has you fold in a cup of chopped walnuts here, too, but dude. That’s just wrong.] Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.
Next up? Make the cookie dough.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Working with the stand mixer in the cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about three minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for one minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter and, using a spatula and a light touch, spread it evenly over the batter.
Okay, so Dorie’s pointing out that you need to use “a light touch” to spread the dough is a bit of an understatement. This is what mine looked like:
The brownie batter, because it’s one of those “leavened by beating sugar and eggs together” spongy batters, was very, very thin. The cookie dough, while not exactly cement-like, was not so thin. There was no spreading it “evenly over the batter”. I put the whole tray in the oven looking just like that picture — as if it was a brownie cobbler with cookie dough as the crumble topping.
You bake the whole thing for 50-55 minutes, and while Dorie has instructions about how to test for doneness (bake “until the cookie top is deep golden brown and firm and a thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate”), I just took it out after 53 minutes and figured if the brownie wasn’t cooked, tough noogies. Neither the cookie dough nor the brownie batter, when sampled in the raw, struck me as unusually delicious, so I was highly doubtful about the overall flavor of this dessert.
As I suspected, the cookie dough spread out perfectly, and my cobbler-dolloping approach worked out fine. When I pulled the pan out of the oven, I was greeted by a vast expanse of golden-brown cookie top.
Once everything is cool, you’re supposed to “carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper, and turn right side up onto a cutting board.” I, um, didn’t read the last bit, and decided I was supposed to serve these cookie-side-down.
I’m going to claim I did it as a design choice, though. I really like how the spongy brownie ends up with a very clean, boxy line, instead of the bar being topped by the cookie-textured “top”. Plus, having a chocolate-chip cookie/blondie base is much cooler than a brownie base, despite the recipe being for “Chipster-Topped Brownies”. So there.
My concerns about the flavor of this dessert were, thankfully, misplaced. The whole here is WAY better than the sum of its parts. You may have noticed that, in total, this recipe calls for almost a pound of butter. Because it’s really good for us. Well, you can certainly taste it! This brownie is rich and bit salty (just the way I like a brownie to be), with the perfect balance of chocolatey and sweet. Furthermore, it makes a huge pan of brownies, and a little bit goes a long way. This is a great dessert for a crowd. Or, if you’re like us, a great dessert for three people to gorge on while stitching and watching Murder, She Wrote. And really, it makes sense. I mean, it’s a layered baked good combining brownies and chocolate chip cookies. It’s genius!