I interviewed former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz last week for a story coming out in Wednesday's food section. I'm a big fan of his blog. He just wrote "Ready for Dessert," which is filled with appealing recipes. Before I called him in his apartment in Paris, I started baking from his book.
First crisp chocolate-chip cookies, for which I chopped 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate ("chips are designed to resist melting," he writes; you have to chop your own):
Then a creamy rice pudding, made something like a risotto. It has no cream, just whole milk, and you can't stop eating it spoon by spoon. And a date-nut torte, a recipe from his half-Syrian mother. The little squares are delicious and moist and contain no fat besides the fat in eggs.
When we were talking, Lebovitz told me that the brownie recipe in his book is one of his all-time favorites. It comes from the late Robert Steinberg, a Boston native who founded Sharffen Berger chocolates. It's a one-pot batter that's simple to make. Lebovitz calls for you to line the pan with foil, which is a trick I really like. You can slide the entire cake out of the pan and cut even bars.
Make sure you beat vigorously for a full minute, as instructed, until the batter it glossy. It produces very good brownies, but too thin for my taste. Next time I would bake them in an 8-inch square (rather than 9-inch), which I think would indeed make them perfect.
Robert's Absolute Best Brownies
Makes 9 to 12
Butter (for the pan)
6 tablespoons butter, cut up
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and chopped
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line an 8-or 9-inch pan with foil, letting the excess hang over. Butter the foil.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir over low heat until it melts.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the flour. Stir energetically for 1 full minute until the batter loses its graininess and becomes smooth and glossy. Stir in the nuts.
4. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes or until almost set. Don't overbake.
5. Cool completely in the pan. Lift out the brownies with the foil, peel off the foil, and cut the cake into bars. Adapted from "Ready for Dessert"
What's cooking in the world of food.
ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.