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brownies with craisins by way of Jackson Pollock

"Always serve too much hot fudge sauce on hot fudge sundaes. It makes people overjoyed, and puts them in your debt." Judith Olney


If Jackson Pollock made brownies, they would look just like this. Or at least they should. Go clicky on that link and then tell me those brownies aren't Pollock worthy.

These treats started as a rather plain, yet very nice, brownie from a book called The Joy of Chocolate by Judith Olney (the source of the delightful quote). They were supposed to get frosting and a customized chocolate graphical signature of sorts atop that, which always seemed rather frou-frou and counter to my needs when making brownies. If I had the time for all that work on individual brownies, I wouldn't be making brownies, I'd be making mud puffs!

And yet, plain frosting seems so plain somehow. So I had to improvise. Hence the Pollock. Because flinging chocolate at a pan of brownies is much more fun, and a lot faster, than any sort of organized and orderly laying out of designs on perfectly divided squares.

Craisy nutty Brownies

These rich, moist brownies, full of craisins, pecans and shreds of bittersweet chocolate, are simple to make yet special enough to stand out at a party. This recipe calls for a good mixer, since the only loft is provided by the air beaten into the eggs, but it can be done by hand if you've got a strong arm, or an assistant so you can trade off the work.

unsweetened chocolate, 6 oz
butter, 6 oz
eggs, 4 large, room temperature
sugar, 1 1/2 cups
vanilla, 1 tsp
ap flour, 1 1/4 cup
salt, 1/4 tsp
cinnamon, 1/4 tsp
craisins, 1 cup
pecans, 3/4 cup, chopped
bittersweet chocolate, 2-4 ounces, in shreds (see note)

Chocolate for topping, 1 oz per type

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9x13 pan and then coat with a mixture of 1 tsp each flour, sugar, and cocoa; add any excess to the brownies with the flour.

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler (or microwave at medium for ~90 seconds, stirring once) and set aside to cool.

Combine flour, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.

Using a mixer, beat eggs at low for 1 minute. With mixer on medium, slowly add 2 cups sugar. Beat until the eggs have quadrupled in size and turned a pale, buttery yellow, about 8-10 min. When this is sufficiently beaten, the sugar should be almost dissolved and the eggs barely grainy if you rub a drop between your fingers.

Add vanilla to cooled chocolate and butter. Turn mixer down to low and drizzle in chocolate mixture.

Gently fold in the craisins, nuts and chocolate shreds by hand until mostly combined. Add flour mixture and fold in until just combined. (yes, this is backwards from most recipes, but the flour deflates the eggs faster than all the goodies, go figure)

Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake ~25 min, until toothpick inserted in center has only a few crumbs clinging to it.

Once the brownies have cooled, you can let your inner artist loose. Melt an ounce each of white chocolate and dark chocolate. (If I had milk chocolate in the house, I'd probably add it for the third color.) I do this in the microwave on low for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted. You might want to put a cup of water in the microwave when you are doing this, it keeps the dishes with the chocolate cooler.

Dip a fork in the melted chocolate and drizzle it on the brownies. Play with different angles of holding the fork and try flicking it around a bit to get different patterns. I've done this a few times now, once with an audience, and this part is amusing. If you have multiple people, especially kids, give them each a color and let them go crazy...or would that be craisy?

These brownies keep for a week tightly wrapped on the counter. Well, these brownies disappear slowly if left tightly wrapped on the counter for a week. But they are still pretty fresh when you are snitching eating the last one. They also freeze well, although I wait to do the artistic part until shortly before serving.

Note: I usually do this by holding on to a chunk of chocolate with a bit of paper towel and using a vegetable peeler to 'peel' off shreds of chocolate onto a flexible plastic 'cutting board.' This helps avoid the mess created by the heat from my hands or highspeed grating, the flexible plastic folds so you can easily funnel all the chocolate shreds into the mixing bowl and it only takes a couple of minutes.

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