I can count on one hand the number of times I've clipped a recipe from a newspaper or magazine and made the recipe that very same day (or exactly as it's written). More often, the paper turns yellow at the edges before I get around to trying the recipe, and years later, when I find the scrap of paper in a long-buried file, I can't remember why I saved it in the first place. Something about these spice brownies grabbed my attention, and I made them on the day I found the recipe in The Boston Globe. In the slow cooker, I had a kind of North African stew at work, and these fudgy brownies, shot through with the warm spices of that region, made a perfect dessert. I've never put saffron into a brownie before, or taken time to brown the butter, and I admit I had my doubts, but one bite convinced me that all brownies should be made this way, forever.
Brown-butter saffron spice brownies
From the pantry, you'll need: all-purpose unbleached flour, baking powder, kosher salt, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground nutmeg, eggs, granulated sugar, butter, saffron, baking spray.
Makes 9 brownies; recipe from The Boston Globe, with minor modifications.
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Pinch of saffron threads
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated (I used chocolate chunks and roughly chopped them with a sharp knife)
Baking spray (like Baker's Joy)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until thoroughly combined (and slightly thickened), and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When it melts, crumble in a pinch of saffron. Continue to heat, stirring occasionally as needed, until the butter turns light brown, 3-4 minutes.
Whisk the hot butter into the egg mixture (drizzle it in, so you don't cook the eggs), and then whisk the egg mixture into the flour. Stir until just combined; do not overmix. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate.
Immediately pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into 9 large brownies.
More brownies, because you can never have too many:
Brownie cupcakes, from The Perfect Pantry
Beer brownies, from Joy the Baker
Gluten-free brownies, from Elana's Pantry
Grasshopper brownies, from Brown Eyed Baker
Peppermint patty brownies, from Two Peas and Their Pod