This recipe, I admit, is a little gimmicky. It’s reminiscent of an overplayed commercial featuring bad lighting and the latest, greatest idea: the snuggie, for instance (like a blanket, except it has armholes!), or perhaps the clapper (clap on! clap off!). This recipe, unlike those commercials, has the advantage of Martha Stewart (or at least her brand) proclaiming its virtues. And what she (or one of her magazines) says is this: like a brownie, except it’s made in a skillet!
Well, I’m sold.
Actually, it was Kevin who was sold, when I made the questionable decision to tip the magazine spread featuring the recipe in his direction. Like a kid in candy land, his eyes lit up and the next thing I knew, I was digging the bittersweet chocolate out of the pantry and retrieving a skillet from the cupboard.
I felt a little bit less sheepish about this chain of events considering that brownies seem to be an exception to the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There is nothing—not one thing—wrong with a regular-old-plain-Jane brownie. Chocolate, butter, eggs, flour, sugar and you’re done.
But I see absolutely nothing wrong with upping the ante a bit: adding a dollop of mascarpone, to the batter, say, or slathering the top with a thick layer of ganache. Same goes for swirling a trail of cheesecake batter or pureed pumpkin or peanut butter through a pan of brownies. I’ve also been known to liberally apply cinnamon and I’d like to try my hand at adding a bit of spice too. Heck, I even hear good things about black beans, of all things, in brownies. Black beans!
So, yes, it seemed that me and my skillet were in well-trod “fixing something that’s not broken” territory. And, you know what? I’m so glad we were. Because these brownies were really, really good. The surface of the brownies achieved the papery-thin, crackled quality that the best brownies all have. And the interior deftly towed the line between cakey and fudgy—dense, but with a delicate crumb.
Factor in the circular shape of the brownies (baked in a skillet!, you’ll recall), which requires you to slice the them into wedges (and even the thinnest wedge is inherently larger than a standard-issue square brownie—which is okay by me), and a scoop of Vanilla Bean-Bourbon Ice Cream and, gimmick or not, I’m a believer.
Fudgy Skillet Brownies
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
In a medium ovenproof nonstick skillet, bring butter and cream to a simmer over medium. Add chocolate; reduce to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate has melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes.
Add chocolate mixture to sugar mixture, whisking until blended (reserve skillet). Fold in flour mixture. Pour batter into skillet.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Serve from skillet, warm or at room temperature.