Have you ever loved an experience so much that you mourn the ending long before said experience is over? A few weekends ago, our daughter Hannah flew home from boarding school for a long weekend. Not to celebrate a birthday or a holiday, but to just be home. We spent our time as most mothers and teenage daughters do, in much the same way we did but took for granted before she went away to school. We went out to lunch, we shopped a bit, we went to the movies. But we also stayed up late talking and watching tv, spending long stretches in our pjs lazing about and enjoying the nearness of one another.
I felt an unexpected pang of sadness on her first morning home as she stood at the fridge, plucking raspberries from their container and popping them into her mouth while I made breakfast. I’d watched her do this a hundred times before. What was it in this ordinary moment that made my heart ache? And then it hit me. I didn’t want our blissfully unplanned time to end.
Our visit flew by far too quickly, just as I knew it would, though she’ll be back for spring break in a few short weeks. Until then, she’ll taste a little bit of home-away-from-home when these fudgy, amaretti-laced brownies arrive on her dorm room steps.
Dorie Greenspan’s Lucky Charm Brownies
Dorie Greenspan, the beloved cookbook author and dessert columnist for the New York Times, recently penned Dorie’s Cookies, from which I have baked many recipes including this one. She has a delightful and down-to-earth way of teaching you through her pages, and cookie after cookie, I have been overjoyed – not a disappointing recipe in the bunch. She calls these her Lucky Charm Brownies because no matter how she’s tweaked or served them over the years, the brownies have turned out perfectly. All I can say is that they are positively addictive. It should be telling that in all my years of blogging, this is the first time I’ve shared a recipe that I did not create (though they are my pictures!). You’ll need a food processor, but it does all the work. They come together in a snap.
Makes one 8-inch square pan of brownies. Greenspan says 16 brownies…I say 9? 12?
for the brownies:
- 3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 6 double amaretti cookies (2 1/2 ounces)*
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used kosher)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and brought to room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Brush the whole interior of an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with softened butter, line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the paper and dust the whole thing with cocoa powder, gently tapping it around to coat and discarding the excess.
Place the almonds, amaretti cookies, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt in the food processor, pulsing and processing until mixture is finely ground. Add butter and eggs, processing and occassionally scraping down sides, until the mixture is light and homogenous, about two minutes.
Pour in the melted chocolate a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Process a bit longer, until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Scrape batter from the processor into the prepared baking pan, then gently tap it on the counter to release any bubbles in the batter.
Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out “streaky.” Greenspan warns that the top may erupt a bit, and that you can press the domes down gently with a pancake turner. Cool brownies in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges between the pan and the brownies to release any spots that may stick. Place the rack on top of brownie pan and carefully flip it over to turn the brownies out onto the rack. Remove parchment paper, then place another rack on top, flipping over so brownies are right side up. Cool completely.
for the glaze:
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I use a serrated bread knife to chop chocolate which makes the task infintely easier)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 double amaretti cookies (just under an ounce), crushed
Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Put cream, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour cream mixture immediately over the chocolate, stirring gently until it becomes a completely smooth and glossy glaze.
Pour glaze over brownies, evenly smoothing with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with crushed cookies and chill in fridge for 30 minutes to set glaze (though it will not harden completely). Place brownies on a cutting board and cut into desired number of servings. Greenspan suggests cutting only as many as you plan to serve if not serving all at once.
*Amaretti cookies are light-as-air almond flavored Italian cookies found in specialty Italian markets and some grocery stores (and on-line, of course). Many, but not all, amaretti cookies are gluten-free. There is no addtional flour in this recipe, so if you can find gf amaretti, your brownies will be gluten free.