Olive Oil Brownies with Toasted Walnuts

by Monica Glass

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Nothing is more irresistible than the combination of a chewy interior and the crispy sweet crust of a freshly baked brownie.  While chocolate is typically the most important ingredient in a brownie, we successfully experimented to create a recipe that would highlight the intensity and flavor of olive oil while still retaining all of the classic properties we love.  In the first few attempts at baking these fudgy treats, we noticed a nutty aroma wafting from the oven, so the addition of toasted walnuts is naturally perfect.  Of course you’ll want to devour all of these delectable morsels at once, but try your hardest to be patient, because the flavor develops and intensifies even more after a few days.

Makes about 2 dozen 1-inch brownies

Ingredients

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
4 oz butter (1 stick)
4 oz olive oil (see the Chef’s Note for more on olive oils)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Equipment

You may use the Baker’s Edge pan for perfect “edge” brownies
or a 9×12 baking pan for regular brownies

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9×12 baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Melt the chocolate in a heavy saucepan over the stove, stirring constantly so as not to burn the chocolate (or melt slowly in 30 second intervals in the microwave). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter and beat with the olive oil and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each. Stir in the vanilla, then the chocolate. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix the batter. Fold in the walnuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread using an offset spatula to make the top smooth.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. When you stick a knife or toothpick into the center to see how they are progressing, they should be just barely set—not too raw, but still fairly gooey. (If you prefer a more cake-like brownie, just cook a little bit longer.) Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cooled, cut into 1-inch squares and enjoy!

[Chef’s Notes: In testing these brownies, we tried several different olive oils which each gave the final brownie a different, distinct taste. Extra virgin olive oil gave the brownies a nutty and more profound taste, while light olive oil yielded a more subtle taste in the brownies. What the term "light" refers to is that this oil is lighter in both color and fragrance, and has little of the classic olive flavor due to an extremely fine filtration process (not that it is lighter in calories!). We really enjoyed the nutty intensity of the extra virgin olive oil, but if you prefer a milder and more subtle flavor, by all means use the light. Another option is to use flavored olive oils such as orange or lemon, or you can even make your own by steeping the flavoring ingredient in oil for at least a day, or for up to a week.

Refrigerating or freezing the (completely) cooled brownies makes cutting with a sharp knife much easier. Just remember to return the brownies to room temperature before serving.

The brownies will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days, refrigerated for about a week, or frozen beautifully for 2-3 months. They also never freeze completely solid — a bonus (or hazard) if you, like us, are known to eat them straight from the freezer.]

Recipe by Monica Glass

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