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Malted milk powder takes brownies beyond ordinary

Salted shortbread cookies headlined this blog’s previous post, as impetus for exploring specialty salts.

The post also acknowledged the salted dessert trend, which has elevated homey baked goods to gourmet status with a sprinkle of fine-quality salt. Similarly, this recipe assigns even more relevance to malted chocolate, that stuff of movie-theater snacks and soda-fountain staples.

Malted milk powder is optional in this recipe from Tribune News Service. But without it, the recipe is merely a good brownie recipe, instead of one that really makes an impression.

And just as the shortbread recipe admonished against chopping the chocolate chunks too fine, the same holds true in this case. Coarse chunks ensure that there are pockets of silken chocolate in the finished product, rather than a homogeneous cocoa chew.

Consider this one a candidate for your Valentine. And look for more chocolate recipes posted next week to this blog.

Malted 'Forever' Brownies

1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

5 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 64-68% cacao), coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons malted milk powder (optional)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Arrange an oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with 2 sheets of foil, crossing 1 over other and pressing foil into corners and up sides. Lightly butter foil and set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup boiling water until smooth (this will bring out cocoa’s flavor).

Add the semisweet chocolate, butter and oil to bowl with cocoa mixture and set it over a medium saucepan filled with about 1 inch of simmering (not boiling) water (make sure bottom of bowl isn't touching water). Warm mixture gently, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into chocolate mixture. It will look grainy and you might see some fat start to separate from rest of mixture, which is normal. Add the whole egg, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk vigorously until mixture comes back together and looks very thick, smooth and glossy.

Add the flour, malted milk powder and salt and whisk slowly until everything is combined, then whisk more vigorously until batter is very thick, for a full 45 seconds.

Add the milk chocolate to batter and fold with a flexible spatula to distribute. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading in an even layer all the way to corners. Bake brownies in preheated oven until surface is shiny and puffed and center is dry to touch but still soft when pressed, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Allow brownies to cool in pan until they are no longer hot, for about 1 hour, then refrigerate until bottom of pan feels cold, for about 1 hour longer (this results in a chewier texture). Use ends of foil to lift brownies out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice brownies into 16 squares.

Makes 16 brownies.

From "Dessert Person," by Claire Saffitz ($35, Clarkson Potter).

Tribune News Service photo