Wednesday Baking: Brownie Bites

Who doesn’t love brownies? Chewy, chocolatey goodness. With or without nuts, they are a staple of baking. I don’t bake brownies often, usually because a standard brownie recipe makes too much for just the two of us here. Not that I object to come chocolate love, but we try not to have sweets around too much. Add to that the BaldMan is not all that fond of chocolate? What? I know, right? But I wanted to make brownies. What to do?

Hmmm.

I thought about those tiny brownie snack bites you can get at the grocery store. Now, those would be perfect. I could bake them, we’d have some that day, and the rest could be frozen for future use. Aha! Out came the trusty mini muffin pan again. That thing has been so handy.

Here are a couple notes before we get to the recipe itself. You can use a mixer to beat the eggs and sugar, but when you add the melted chocolate and especially the flour, you might want to switch to a rubber spatula. You can use the mixer, but use the lowest speed and watch the batter so that the flour just gets fully mixed in. You don’t want to beat the flour so much that it starts forming a lot of gluten, because that will make your brownies tough. Make sure you grease your muffin or baking pan well. If you use a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan, I suggest making a sling out of parchment or foil to make it easier to get the brownies out of the pan. Just cut a piece of foil or parchment as wide as your pan and long enough that it will hang over the sides. If you use foil, smooth it as much as you can on the bottom and sides of the pan. Grease the foil or parchment like you would the pan. Be careful not to overbake the brownies, or they will lose that yummy fudgy middle. The edges should be firm and a toothpick inserted just at the edge should come out almost clean, but the centers will look underbaked and the toothpick will be coated with batter but not dripping.

I used the recipe from Joy of Cooking (one of my go to cookbooks for lots of good, reliable recipes and a lot of information on foods and technique) for Brownies Cockaigne, and cut it in half. It gave me 24 mini brownies. The Cockaigne in Joy recipes means it is an original to the first Joy of Cooking and was developed by Irma Bombauer.  Cockaigne is a mythical medieval land where there is always plenty and the harshness of peasant life doesn’t exist. Here we go:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
Pinch salt
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. nuts (optional)

Melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat, and set aside to cool. Make sure you cool the chocolate or your brownies will be heavy and dry. Beat the eggs with the salt until they are light yellow and a bit foamy. Add the vanilla, and gradually add the sugar, beating until well creamed. Stir in the cooled chocolate with a spatula until just mixed with the eggs and sugar. Add the flour and stir until just combined, then stir in the nuts, if using.

Scoop the batter into your mini muffin tin, filling each section about 3/4 full. If using a baking pan, pour the batter into it. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 7-8 minutes for the mini bites, or 20-25 minutes for the square pan. Remove from oven, cover with a towel, and let cool for 30-45 minutes. Lift the bites carefully from the muffin tin (I used a small offset spatula) or lift with the sling from the square pan. Cut the brownies in the pan into squares. Don’t cut them until cool because the interior needs to set before they are cut.

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