So, one-third of the United States is caught up in a megastorm, and central Ohio is part of the whole mess. Where I live, we didn't get snow, although it's snowing a little at the moment. We got freezing rain instead, and yesterday morning we woke up to a solid coating of ice. Schools were closed, which meant my ESL class was canceled, and I got a snow day like I was a school girl or something.
This is the view of a tree top by my house—notice the used bird's nest filled with old snow and encased in new ice:
And this is the Dr. Zhivago patio table:
In honor of the gifted hibernation day, I baked a batch of brownies using a recipe in this month's edition of Bon Appetit. Brownie ingredients are brownie ingredients, for the most part, but taking the extra step of browning the butter before mixing it in with the rest of the goo is genius. Genius! I tell you. In this pot are the best of it before the flour, and it was all I could do to not lick the spoon:
And here is the finished product, every bit as good as I expected. The U.S. is still being pummeled by winter weather, so bake a batch of these today and enjoy.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
* I replaced about a tablespoon of cocoa with a tablespoon of espresso powder. It could have used more.
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1⁄4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.