A brownie from the past

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownie-by Kat

I didn’t think I’d be venturing down the brownie path so soon after the bittersweet brownie post and proclaiming I wasn’t much of a chocolate lover.  However, brownies being one of my favorite ways to get my chocolate fix…

Two things happened over the weekend to prompt this post.  The first was, I came across this photo of Ina Gartens Outrageous brownie that I made on August 10th 2006.  The other was,  after a quick google search, I discovered that they are the subject of much debate in the food blog-world:  Are they the best brownie ever?  Yes, most definitely.

 I worked at an exceptional catering company specializing in weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.  The pastry chef made the most incredible brownies.  I spent half my time working my tail off and the other half trying to get my hands on that brownie recipe.  This was before I knew Ina’s brownie existed.  I had a copy of her cookbook but at the time was only interested in savory recipes so I’d never tried any of the desserts and sweets in the book.

At the catering company whenever an an event was over and  there was leftover food (that wasn’t already paid for) we would have it as staff meal.  I always made sure I had one or two of those brownies  tucked away for my ride home.  There was something about these brownies that gave them their extraordinary flavor-it wasn’t just the chocolate.  This was the perfect brownie-cakey but without the fluff, more dense with a nice chewiness and a good combination of chocolates and sugar.

As my time at the catering company neared its end it became clear I was not going to get the recipe and asking the pastry chef was out of the question.  On my last day I packed my knives and my chosen piece of brownie and headed home.

It was exactly three years after leaving the catering company that I  made Ina’s Outrageous Brownie.  After baking and tasting them  I was sure they were the brownies from the catering company.  They had the same taste of something  more than just chocolate.  Only this time I knew what that something was because I was staring right at it in the pages of Ina’s cookbook-instant coffee granules!

You will hear me talk a lot about one ingredient enhancing the flavor of another.  Much the way salt spikes flavor into bland foods and a splash of red wine vinegar will brighten a soup or stew.  It’s just the way food and cooking works.

Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.  Its as simple as that.  It’s what made those brownies at the catering company taste so good.  The same as Ina’s.  I have not seen the recipe but I am almost sure of it.  So yes, these are the best brownies ever.  Moist with a cakey chew, not too sweet and loaded with chocolate. They taste especially good right from the fridge.

I’m happy I came across this recipe again.  I haven’t  made the brownies since then but I’m sure I will as I’ve come up with some nice variations even though they’re fine the way they are. 

Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies

Note: This recipe can be easily scaled down to a half recipe. Otherwise it makes 20 large brownies.

DO NOT use a 9×13 pan. Use a rimmed half sheet pan for the full recipe and a quarter sheet pan if you scale down the recipe to half.


1 pound unsalted butter

1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 extra large eggs

3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water.

Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder and salt.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.  Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake!  Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate and cut into 20 large squares.


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