Makes 16 brownies
Alice Medrich has been a friend and advisor to SCHARFFEN BERGER from our company's beginning. After testing several brownies recipes, we like these best. Be forewarned: these are very fudgy brownies. This recipe was originally published in Alice's book Cookies and Brownies (Warner Books, 1999) and now appears in her latest book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your Mouth Cookies (Artisan, 2010).
Be sure to read the recipe all the way through before baking. It is important to follow the ice bath cooling technique in order to get the right results.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line an 8-inch square metal (metal is important here) pan with either aluminum foil or parchment paper so that it comes up all four sides.
Melt the butter with the chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl placed directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and smooth and fairly hot to the touch.
Remove the bowl from the bath. Stir in the sugar and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated. Stir in the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy and begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Stir in the nuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the brownies just begin to come away from the sides of the pan. The surface of the brownies will look dry, but a toothpick inserted in the center will still be quite gooey.
While the brownies are baking, prepare the ice bath for cooling. Fill a roasting pan or a large baking pan with ice cubes and cold water about 3/4 inch deep. When the brownies are ready, remove the pan from the oven, and set it immediately in the ice bath, taking care not to splash water on the brownies. Cool the brownies in the ice bath.
When cool, lift the edges of the foil and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. Brownies keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days.