If you’ve spent even a small amount of time here, you know that I love cookbooks. Even on hectic days when my two little ones run me ragged, I try to find time to clear my head with a warm cup of coffee and a few peaceful moments paging through recipes. So what makes a cookbook ‘good’? Well, rather than listing page after page of instruction, for me the best cookbooks are like settling in and sharing ideas with a comforting friend. They have stories wrapped around a theme, emotions that tie the dishes to the author’s life and loved ones, and– obviously– brilliant food. I want to know the recipes are part of the author’s life, that they’re important enough that she needs to share them. I want to make them become part of my family’s traditions and story, because that’s really what eating together is about– shared experiences.
One of my favorite cookbook authors is Melissa Clark. Along with her popular column for the New York Times (A Good Appetite), she has authored or co-authored dozens of fantastic works. Her cookbook “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite” gives you a flavor of her journey to where, and who she is today. I’ve waxed about her creativity in the kitchen and her way with words in this past post. Today’s recipe, these decadent brownies, comes from her new book, “Cook This Now”. In a word, both the brownies and the book are brilliant. In her latest collection, she shares experiences of her life as both a mother and a wife centered around meals for family and friends. The book’s format mirrors the seasons– which is how I try to cook. The individual recipes are varied, creative, and mouth-watering. I decided to make these brownies first, to share with a friend on his birthday– he loves chocolate and coconut.
I love the coconut/chocolate pairing, and in this recipe they really work together brilliantly. This is not a normal, cake-like brownie. Instead, it has a moist fudge-y density and texture that delivers a huge chocolate punch. And the two layers of coconut add nice subtlety. The first coconut layer (on top) crisps up beautifully. The second (baked into the brownies) provides nice textural contrast to the brownie itself. A sprinkle of fleur de sel on top makes them perfect. Enjoy them with coffee while reading a good cookbook, or share them with a friend.
The Recipe: Coconut Fudge Brownies
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil (butter may be substituted, if necessary)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (do not substitute unsweetened, as it will be too dry for the brownies)
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling (kosher salt may be substituted)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, and boiling water together until smooth. Whisk in the the melted butter and coconut oil. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks curdled. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the flour and salt and gently fold with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate pieces.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth in out. Sprinkle 1 cup of coconut on top of it. Spread the remaining batter on top of the coconut. Sprinkle the remaining cup of coconut on top of that. Dust with a bit of fleur de sel and bake until a tester inserted into the center of the brownie is just set and shiny, 30-35 minutes. If you test with a toothpick, it may seem wet, which is fine. It will solidify as it cools. It is better to under- bake these brownies, than to over-bake them. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now Cookbook
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