Maida Heatter’s Palm Beach Brownies recipe is one of my favorites, but over the years I’ve played with it and am calling these “Updated Palm Beach Brownies”.
Like Maida’s original recipe, Updated Palm Beach Brownies are dense, stiff, and almost fudge like. In addition, they have a fairly noticeable crust thanks to the high heat baking. And even though there’s a lot of butter and chocolate, the brownies aren’t greasy — maybe because the high amount of eggs, flour and sugar balances it out. But even with all the sugar, they’re not overly sweet because the nuts cut the sweetness a bit (which is why I recommend leaving them in).
Another good thing about Palm Beach Brownies is that they’re easy to cut into shapes. For instance, if you want to make football or cat head shaped brownies using a big cutter, these cut nicely when chilled. And I always chill these for as long as I can stand to wait! They’re better the next day, which leads us to the downside of these brownies. You need at least a day for them to sit and come into their own.
The other downside is that if your oven runs hot or is in any way wonky, the brownies burn easily. They are supposed to be baked at 425 F for exactly 35 minutes and if you mess with the pan size or temperature (as I have done many times), you’ll get different results. These days I stick with this recipe as written below, plus I add in the step of plunging the brownies into a pan of ice water as soon as they’re baked.
So here’s how I’ve been making the brownies lately. I don’t like messing with the original make-up of the major ingredients (the 8 oz butter, 8 oz chocolate, massive amount of sugar), but I’ve been trying different brands of chocolate and butter and using evaporated cane juice crystals in place of granulated sugar.
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter
- 8 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped – Ghirardelli or Sharffen Berger
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee or a packet of Black Silk or other instant
- 3 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 2/3 cup (7 ½ ounces) sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces
- handful of chocolate chips for the top (optional)
- Adjust an oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9x13x2-inch metal pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan set over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, using 50% power and stirring every 30 seconds.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs with the vanilla, salt, coffee and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes. On low speed, add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed. Stir in the flour using lowest speed of mixer, then remove from mixer and stir in the nuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan from front to back once to ensure even baking. Halfway though, lay a sheet of heavy duty foil over the top of the brownies to prevent the top from burning. At about 25 minutes the brownies will start to smell really good and you might be tempted to take them out, but try to hold out and keep them in the whole 35 minutes. If your oven is calibrated properly, you won’t overbake them.
- While brownies are baking, fill a roasting pan about an inch full with ice water.
- Remove the pan from the oven, scatter chips across the top (if using) and immediately set pan in the ice water. Let the brownies cool down in the ice water bath for about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator or the freezer and chill overnight.
- The next day lift the brownies from the pan and peel away the parchment paper or the foil. Cut into large squares.
For an 8 inch pan (half batch), bake for only 27 minutes, then plunge pan into a larger pan with ice water to quick cool. Refrigerate brownies for several hours or overnight, then lift by grasping foil. Cut into squares.
I've never made these in a glass pan, but if you try it, make sure to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees F. I think using a glass pan might give the brownies a thicker crust.
Also, cutting them into 24 pieces or 16 pieces is a suggestion. These are dense and heavy, so you may be satisfied with 1/48 or even smaller.