I have always strongly preferred chewy, cocoa-based brownies. The fudgy ones just seem too wet to me. And then I was reading this recipe by Alice Medrich, in which she described a particular brownie recipe (this recipe) as a cross between a moist cake and mousse. Not my kind of brownie. Then she suggested serving it out of a round tin in wedges with whipped cream. Oh. My kind of brownie.
It is amazing what a difference serving a fudgy brownie as a moist cake made to my perception of it. And eating it with a fork didn’t hurt either–I confess I’ve never enjoyed bars and cookies that were too goopy and soft to pick up easily. That’s my inner OCD no doubt.
Anyway, this was fantastic. The cacao nibs and salt are not necessary, but they are definitely tasty and elevate the chocolate. Good bittersweet chocolate is a must for this recipe, and the amount of sugar called for means you truly do need a 70% (or right around that) cacao chocolate. A sweeter chocolate will make the cake too sweet. I used Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet chocolate.
8 oz 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup + 1 T (1.2 oz) AP flour
1/4 cup cacao nibs, divided in half
hefty pinch of coarse grey sea salt
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350 F.
Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper (you could also just line an 8 inch square pan with foil for more of a brownie approach and less of a cake approach). Set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together by melting in the microwave in 30 second intervals on 50% power. Whisk smooth and set aside.
Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla on medium high speed for the stand mixer or high speed for the handheld, until it is thick, pale and ribbony, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the warm chocolate, whisking as you pour the chocolate. Fold in the flour and 2 tablespoons of the cacao nibs. Pour into the prepared pan, and smooth the top level. Sprinkle the salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the cacao nibs over the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan on a rack. Carefully remove the side of the springform pan (I did not need to loosen with a knife but be prepared to) and then slide a large spatula or cake lifter under the cake but over the parchment paper. Remove to a cake keeper. Slice into wedges, wiping the knife clean in between slices, and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.