There’s a new brownie recipe making the rounds, and it’s from Ralph Lauren’s wife, Ricky. Featured in The Ladies Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton, the Lauren family calls these Nana’s Brownies because Ricky’s mom used to make them for Ralph’s birthday every October. So you could also call these Nana’s Brownies or Ricky’s Brownies, but for now we’ll go with Ralph Lauren’s Brownies to make them sound stylish!
They really do eat well in The Hamptons, and these brownies are indicative. They are fabulous! I was worried they’d be too boozy, but they are not. They’d still be very good without the rum, though I’d be inclined to use it again.
Ralph Lauren’s Brownies are chewy/cakey on the outside and fudgy in the center with no dry parts. There’s a good balance of fudgy and cakey so they are “in-between” brownies.
Just so you know, there is a second version of the recipe that was published in Bon Appetit in 2015. It is a half batch version, but calls for bittersweet chocolate vs. unsweetened. I didn’t realize the bittersweet version existed until after I’d made the unsweetened version, and honestly that is probably for the best. I would have gone with the bittersweet version. But the unsweetened version is excellent and worth buying a block of high quality unsweetened for.
The glaze, however, is not that sweet. Or at least I didn’t think so which is why I dumped confectioners’ sugar all over the brownies. You could probably get away with using bittersweet or extra bittersweet chocolate in the glaze or just increasing the confectioners’ sugar slightly (rather than dumping it on like I did). Either way, Ralph Lauren’s brownies are good. I’m already looking forward to making a second batch for the neighbors.
Update: Just made a second batch of these but did it as a half batch. Used an 8 inch square pan and baked at 350 for 35 minutes.
If you can’t use walnuts, you might want to make the version mentioned below (Nana’s Brownies) made with bittersweet chocolate. The walnuts may somehow contribute to the fudgy center in the unsweetened chocolate version. Or maybe the nuts affect the bake time. I’m thinking of the old Tunnel of Fudge recipe where Rita Helfrich says the recipe won’t work without the nuts.
I made all of my batches with Ghirardelli unsweetened. The brand of chocolate may affect the results.
Don’t over-bake — these can go from perfect to dry pretty quickly. When you remove the thermometer it should still be climbing to 210 and not already at it.
For a half batch, 350 seems to work better.
The brownies are cakey/fudgy so again — do not make if you want super fudgy brownies. The Epicurious is more of a sure thing if fudgy is your goal. These are good because they are less sweet and more intensely chocolate.
In addition to the first two batches, I made a third batch of brownies using the Nana’s Brownies recipe from Epicurious. It is very similar, but a half batch and calls for a few tablespoons of cocoa and bittersweet instead of unsweetened. The Epicurious version was great too, and sweeter. I feel like the version with unsweetened chocolate is a little more intense and interesting, but the bittersweet chocolate version was sweeter and had chewier sides.
Ralph Lauren’s Brownies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 250 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 oz unsweetened chocolate chopped (170 grams)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter 230 grams
- 3 cups sugar 600 grams
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract I used cheap vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts plus more for garnish
- Rum Glaze
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter 84 grams
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate chopped, use good. (115 grams)
- 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar I recommend a little more
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp. dark rum or brandy 56 ml
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. I've only tested in metal and don't recommend glass at this point. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment or dust with flour.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter with the sugar over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until mixed but not frothy. Stir in the chocolate mixture and then the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
- Spread in the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are set and a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let cool. The brownies should sink a bit as they cool, but when everything settles they'll be good.
- Meanwhile, make the rum glaze: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Stir in the vanilla and rum, and keep warm.
- Spread the brownies with the warm rum glaze. Cut into 2-inch squares and decorate each with a walnut half. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Regarding the cookbook – try Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks. She’s amazing!
Starr Recipes from Greystone. Got it! I will check the used bookstores when things re-open.
These brownies look so good!
I love collecting cookbooks and am looking for “Starr Recipes From Greystone”. Mary Starr is the author and the book is out of Tennessee. I was hoping if you came across the cookbook I could purchase it from you! Shows you how crazy I am about cookbooks!!!! Love your fun blog!!!
Thank you very much!!
I think you will love the Epicurious version, and the brownies will be excellent with the bittersweet.
I appreciate all of your extra tips. I don’t have unsweetened chocolate but I have bittersweet chocolate I think. I need to look up the distinction between dark chocolate, unsweetened and bittersweet. I will probably try the Epicurious version since I have bittersweet.
To answer your question, I made the glaze and didn’t taste it before pouring it on, which was stupid. I tasted it after pouring, thought it was not sweet enough, got frustrated and literally dumped sugar on top. I do not advise this. For the second batch I used a little extra powdered sugar in the glaze itself — not sure how much, just “to taste” and the glaze was fine. It is not a super sweet glaze, but it makes the chocolate more pronounced. Same with the brownies. They’re not that sweet, but they are very chocolaty.
For the rum, I’ve been dumping it on individual pieces of brownie and eating them before 5:00. It’s your call. Seriously though, I feel like the rum level isn’t too strong at all, but maybe it depends on the rum? I used Captain Morgan. Next time I may use bourbon.
Please let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’m going to make the other version of these that’s on Epicurious and which is from Ricky Lauren’s cookbook The Hamptons, Food,, Family & HIstory. I really wish I knew what kind of chocolate “Nana” used.
Hi Anna! I hope all is well with you. My cousin is stopping in today, safely social distancing, of course, and I just remembered that her birthday is tomorrow. “What to bake?” I asked myself, and came to CookieMadness for some inspiration! These are perfect! Just so I’m clear, did you make the glaze, then dump confectioners sugar on top of the glaze? If I make them before noon, is that too early to test the amount of rum in the glaze? One for the glaze, one for the cook, and so on.
Lynn, I imagine so. I’m on a big nut kick right now and am definitely keeping them in, but maybe someone will test them without nuts and report back.
Wondering if these can successfully be made without the nuts.
This sounds like a fun recipe to try!