The brownie recipe comes from Faith Heller Willinger’s new cookbook, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Olive oil and chocolate struck me as a particularly nice combination. I had to try the brownies. Luckily a family dinner presented an excuse for baking.
The recipe was quick and simple and delivered a moist batter that did not disappoint (well, I was not disappointed). I particularly loved the salt in the recipe which seemed to stand out against the chocolate much more than it would have had the brownies been laden with butter. Interestingly, half of the guests at the dinner loved the brownies for their moist non-cake-y texture and the other half lamented the richness of butter, and felt the chocolate was somehow not quite chocolate-y enough. Argh! I loved them and I’d happily make them again (skipping the nuts which I always feel are just in the way). I am also intrigued by Faith’s cookbook and have it squarely on my wish list.
Olive oil brownies (all text that follows reprinted verbatim from the Traveler's Lunchbox)
Source: adapted from Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger
4 ounces (115g) finest quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose/plain flour (Faith prefers using a soft flour like Italian type 00 or White Lily; if you go this route add an extra tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) superfine/caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (70g) lightly toasted hazelnuts, chopped (Faith uses walnuts)
whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with a lightly oiled and floured piece of parchment paper that overhangs the pan on two sides (this aids in removal later).
Melt the chocolate over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave and whisk in the oil. Let cool.
Mix the flour and salt together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thickened and billowy, about five minutes. Fold in the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and optional nuts, stirring just until everything is combined. Pour into the prepared pan and distribute evenly.
Bake for 22-26 minutes (note from the Traveler's Lunchbox: I would recommend checking earlier to avoid over-baking - mine were just on the verge after 22 minutes). The top will be dry and crackly, though a toothpick inserted in the center should emerge still a little wet. Cool completely, then cut into squares. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.