I can’t tell you how often I dream about Thomas Keller. I think about him all the time. I hope this isn’t creepy. I just adore his imaginative and playful outlook on food, his down-to-earth personality, and immense knowledge of food and cooking techniques. He thinks about food in a way that is simply unparalleled. He wants to make awesome meals for his guests, yes, but he also wants it to evoke a memory and touch people in a personal way. It’s not just eating, it’s experiencing flavors and textures. Other chefs, even Anthony Bourdain, are humbled by his plates. No one can do what he does. I think he’s brilliant. Chad thinks he’s a stoner (the idea of “how else does he think of this stuff?!”). I just want to eat with him, talk to him, have him sign something, make him food. I think he’d like my split red lentil soup with red pepper paste. He’s incredible. Incredible enough that I would actually pay $300 to eat in his restaurants. If I had a spare $300. And I most certainly don’t. I do have his newest cookbook though and with it, I learned his brownie recipe. Oh lord. These brownies.
I’m reading his cookbook as if he wrote it just for me…to teach me to cook aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way from Yountville. I mean, it’s just not practical to expect him to come to Indiana to teach me. So I understand why he wrote a book for me. He’s telling me how to properly cut up a chicken (two different ways) and why he’s against tongs. I’ve already followed his advice about dating my spice jars (see how well I follow directions, Thomas!) and I’ve made an imitation recipe for his cream of walnut soup. This is as close to French Laundry or Per Se or Ad Hoc as I can get (for now).
He seems to be in Julia Child’s camp on the butter topic, no? There are three, count ‘em, three sticks of butter in these. And he’s solved the “I forgot to sit out my butter and it’s not room temperature!” problem too. He’s wonderful.
3/4 C AP flour
1 C unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp salt (Kosher is best here)
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into Tbsps
3 eggs, large
1 3/4 sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C dark chocolate, cut in to pieces
Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 9×9 dish. Combine flour, salt, and cocoa and set aside. Melt half of the butter in a small saucepan. When completely melted, pour over the remaining, chopped butter. Stir well and smush with a fork until you can only see tiny bits of solid butter. Now your butter is room temperature and you have witnessed firsthand how the mad food scientist has solved a classic baking problem.
Mix together eggs and sugar in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) until thick and pale. Add vanilla and then the flour mixture and butter in thirds, first flour then butter. When all is incorporated, fold in chocolate bits. Spread the decadent batter into the baking dish. Let your roommate erase her bad day with the spatula and batter bowl. Bake brownies for the longest 40-45 minutes of your life.
Let brownies cool 20 minutes before cutting into pieces. Or, if you can’t be bothered to wait, just hack into them with abandon.
Let’s be completely honest here. I make a lot of brownies. I’ve come from the box brownie land to the classic one bowl recipes to various twists (like spicy brownies!) and intensely cocoa brownies. I thought I had found the best ever cocoa brownies (and don’t worry I’ll still post those since they’re better than these for storing in the freezer) but these are buttery and rich and so chocolatey.
And I feel like these will be a good bribe/thank you to the apple guys if/when they fix my computer for free. They haven’t called about it yet so I’m hoping that’s a good sign…a sign that they’re busy and up to their elbows in, um, modems and processors. Or something.