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Good-quality cheddar makes a difference in this deliciously surprising brownie recipe from Katie Quinn, author of Cheese, Wine and Bread.
"One of my cheesemonger friends gave me the idea to put chunks of cheddar in brownies. Seriously? I somewhat skeptically made a batch, folding in pieces of Montgomery's Cheddar into the fudgy batter. Still warm from the oven, the cheddar chunks were almost like white chocolate bits. Chunks of cheddar add a wonderful complementary element to fudgy brownies. Use a mature cheddar for its crystallized structure, which not only breaks into bits more easily, but will take on caramel notes as it bakes. In this recipe, I say to sprinkle additional cheddar chunks on top as the brownies cool, but I also love topping them with a cheddar brittle. To make the spots of cheddar brittle, add the additional cheddar chunks on top of the brownie batter halfway through baking—at the same time you rotate the pan—and continue baking per the instructions. The added crunch is a fun twist. These are my ideal brownies now, and not just for the novelty factor." –Katie
Adapted from Cheese, Wine and Bread by Katie Quinn. Copyright © 2021 by Katie Quinn. Used with permission by William Morrow Cookbooks. All rights reserved.
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil (it’s ok if the whole pan doesn’t get covered—just be sure to cover the bottom and long sides), leaving a few inches of overhang along the sides.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. When it has melted completely, increase the heat slightly to bring the butter to a gentle simmer, stirring continuously, then cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to pick up any milk solids that may be sticking to the pan, until the butter is golden yellow, smells nutty, and has stopped making hissing and popping noises, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the exact heat level and material of the pan used. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate. Set aside to allow the chocolate to melt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee (if using). Mix on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to break up any lumps.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Pour in the warm chocolate-butter mixture, then gradually add the flour-cocoa mixture. Mix on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything has been well incorporated. Using a flexible spatula, gently fold in the cheese cubes, then pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 15 minutes more, until the brownies look set and are barely firm to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly (just a few minutes), then sprinkle the broken cheese pieces evenly on top.
Let the brownies cool completely to allow them to set. Slide a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen, then use the foil overhang to lift the brownies from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares. Serve or store in an airtight container—with waxed paper between the layers—at room temperature for up to a week.