I'm writing this post while I'm sitting on the runway, waiting for a flight route to open to Chicago. And what else do you do when you're stuck in a plane for an hour without beer, wine or whiskey? Write about brownies of course!
There's a brownie recipe Amy and I make a lot. It's super easy and only requires one bowl. It's called "Best Cocoa Brownies". And. It. Is. THE. BEST.
I never imagined I could improve on this recipe. Then one day we were at the Beer, Bacon and Barbecue festival in Timonium and we came across this homemade chocolate shop called Parfections. They had this decadent chocolate bark with Old Bay and peanuts. They called it Oriole Bark. Why, you may ask, would anyone in their right mind put Old Bay in chocolate? Well first, because we're in Maryland. We put Old Bay on everything. Second…well it's Maryland. Stop asking stupid questions.
It hit me one night, while eating and entire batch of brownies and then moving on to some Oriole Bark…I COULD MAKE ORIOLE BROWNIES!!
Alcohol might have been involved. Lots of it.
I was on a mission at that point. I think I texted everyone I know about this drunken brilliant idea! So this is probably not news for most of you that are actually reading this.
I tried various measurements of Old Bay: 1 teaspoon, not enough, 2 teaspoons, getting there, 3 teaspoons…perfect!
Then it came down to peanuts. How to introduce them into the batter and when. I tried mixing them into the batter in the last step, but I didn't really get the essence of the nuts (get your mind out of the gutter people, I know what you're thinking). So in the end, I just chopped them up and tossed them on top of the batter in the pan right before baking. And there you have it…perfection.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup chopped un-roasted peanuts
Position rack on the second position from the bottom of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the sides of a 8 x 8 pan with foil and apply a light coat of nonstick spray.
Make a double boiler. Simmer about half an inch of water in a medium sauce pan and place an aluminum bowl over the top so that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Once all the butter is melted, the mixture should be hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool until it's still pretty warm but not too hot to touch.
Add vanilla and stir until blended. Then add one egg at a time and stir until blended as well. After you mix in the second egg, you should have a pretty smooth mixture. It should be shiny and thick. Add the flour and Old Bay and mix until you don't see anymore flour then mix another 20 or so strokes.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan evenly. Use a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick spray to spread it around if you need to. Top with the chopped peanuts. If you want an extra strong Old Bay flavor, shake a little more over the top of the brownies, about a 1/4 teaspoon.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick. The center should be slightly moist and not come out completely clean. When done, remove from the oven and lift the brownies out from the pan. Do you smell the roasted nuts and Old Bay! It's AMAZING right?! But WAIT! DON'T EAT THEM YET!
Once cooled, put the brownies in the refrigerator. This is an important step, people. First, it mellows the flavor of the Old Bay and second, it will make the brownies super fudgy. Once cooled, cut the brownies into 16 squares and serve, or just eat as a single brownie.