Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Add Water

This is my basement right now.  Although it never leaked before, that changed dramatically last week after a day of torrential rains. Since we live primarily on the main floor of this house,  it was flooded for 4 days before we discovered it.  Let's just say that a gas mask would have been a good idea before venturing down there.

Ha, and it's about to get worse.  In order to deal with the problem, I found out today that WE HAVE TO TEAR OUT ALL OF THE SHEETROCK.  Oy veh.  This is going to be a l-o-o-o-o-n-g and miserable process.  I hope we can save the carpet, but it's doubtful.  Crap.

I figured I could either start drinking when I found out this morning, or consume chocolate.  I chose the latter.  At least until 5 o'clock.

The good news is that there was actually something good and chocolate-y around here (for a change) to assuage my woes.  That's because I had just baked up a beatiful batch of brownies for a friend's birthday.  I figured she wouldn't miss just one.

Now here's the thing:  my friend maintains a gluten-free diet.  Hey, I'm all in support of that but I am not a gluten-free baker and I didn't have time to figure out how to make a delicious gluten-free birthday cake.  Instead I happened upon this recipe from pastry chef extraordinaire David Lebovitz.  Folks, these are seriously good.  My friend texted me after she tried one and here is what she said,"OMG, you nailed the brownies!  Amazing!  I've had three so far.  I need the recipe, please!"

Here it is.  Don't wait to start a gluten-free diet to try them.

ABSOLUTE BEST BROWNIES (which just happen to be gluten-free), adapted from David Lebovitz's "Ready For Dessert"

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature (I used extra-large)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Line a 9-inch square pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to overhang sides of pan.  Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter.

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Add the bittersweet chocolate, reduce heat to low and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt together in a small bowl.  Add to the chocolate mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, beat vigorously for 1 full minute, until the batter loses its graininess and becomes smooth and shiny.  It will pull slightly away from the sides of the saucepan.  Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape into the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until just barely set.  Do not overbake.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least one hour before removing from pan and cutting into squares. 

Yield:  9 to 12 brownies

*  Don't even think about skipping the "beat for a full minute" step.  It's crucial to the success of this recipe or your brownies will be dry and crumbly.  David describes it as "a life-changing minute."

*  I like to store these in the refrigerator, then take them out to warm up slightly before devouring serving.

Unfortunately, these didn't cure the disaster that is now my basement, but they did help to improve my disposition.  Stay tuned for construction updates!


  1. Water damage is the WORST! My sympathies.

  2. Flooded for 4 days? That is definitely a scary thing to happen to anyone’s basement! Haven’t you got a sump pump in your basement? A sump pump is vital for moisture and water management. It can be considered as the first line of defense for a basement to avoid water damage and flooding, like what happened to yours. Anyway, what happened then? After hearing your story, it sure sounded like a lot of work.