Recipe from Baking Style by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, 2011)
- Buttery cocoa batter
- 2 cups unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsifted bleached cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
- 8 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
- 1 3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- seeds from 1 small vanilla bean, scraped clean
- Cocoa and confectioners' sugar topping, for sifting over the baked bars
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar, for sifting over the baked bars
Serving: 20 large squares or 40 bars
Ahead: 4 days
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Film the inside of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick flour-and-oil spray. Or, line the inside of the baking pan, lengthwise and width-wise, with sheets of release-surface aluminum foil, pressing in the foil release side up and leaving 2 to 3 inches of foil to extend on all four sides. Film the inside of the foil-lined pan with nonstick oil spray.
For the batter, sift the cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
Toss the chocolate chips with 3/4 teaspoon of the sifted mixture in a small mixing bowl.
In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter and melted chocolate until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs just to mix. Add the superfine sugar and beat for 30 seconds to mix, but not add volume. Blend in the light brown sugar. Blend in the melted chocolate-butter mixture, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds, mixing slowly with a whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Once again, avoid vigorously beating the mixture. Resift the cocoa-flour mixture over the chocolate-butter mixture. Whisk slowly to form a batter, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the batter even-textured. The batter will be thick. Work in the chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a flexible palette knife.
Bake the sweet in the preheated oven for 40 to 44 minutes, or until just set. The edges of the baked sweet will puff slightly and there may be a few hairline cracks on the surface; this is to be expected.
Cool the sweet in the pan on a cooling rack. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm enough to cut. If you have used the foil liner, lift the block of bar cookies out of the pan by the edges of the foil. Cut the sweet into 20 squares, or cut each square in half to create bars, using a long, heavy chef's knife. (Peel away the cut squares from the foil.) Remove the squares or bars from the pan, using a small offset metal spatula. Or run amok, and break the big block into odd-shaped pieces and fragments. Store in an airtight tin. Just before serving, whisk the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder in a small mixing bowl to combine well, then sift the topping over the tops of the squares or bars. Or, sift plain confectioners' sugar over the tops of the squares or bars.
-make sure that the light brown sugar is sieved to remove any hardened lumps, for these will not melt and will firmly punctuate (in an unattractive way) the baked sweet
-if available, miniature bittersweet chocolate chips can replace the semisweet variety
-in the topping, a combination of confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder adds a finishing flurry to the sweet as well as a secondary level of chocolate flavor; cocoa powder alone would make a simple--but significantly more intense--topping (use about 5 teaspoons to sift over the top in a sheer layer), but confectioners' sugar alone can also be used
-a few of the squares or bars can be reserved and used in the filling for my "brownie" babka (page 196)