“French” Brownie Recipe

Dorie Greenspan calls these her “French” brownies, not just because she invented them while living in Paris, but because her point of departure was French fondant (which on that side of the pond is a kind of cake). All that is beside the point to me, as I consider this recipe to be the highest expression to date of the American brownie-making art. These are my personal died-and-gone-to-heaven brownies. As a chocolate experience, I vastly prefer them to flourless chocolate cake, which is so decadently chocolate-y as to be almost profane. These are dense and rich, but somehow also light. Try them, friends. With or without the raisins, they are a phenomenon. The formula is:

2.5 ounces (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 ounces (12 tablspoons) butter at room temperature
3 eggs
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar

Begin by preheating your oven to 300. Prepare an 8″ square baking pan by lining it with foil and greasing it with butter. Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon and set aside. Place the raisins in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the water. As the moisture boils away, the raisins will plump. If you wish, you can add the rum at this point. Swirl the pan to warm the liquor, then (carefully) ignite it and flame the raisins until the alcohol is burned off. Set the raisins aside to cool.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (Ms. Greenspan uses a double-boiler) as directed in the previous brownie recipe below. When the chocolate is smooth and warm, add the butter and stir until it’s melted.

Next, combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip until the sugar and eggs are light in color, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture and whip another 30 seconds until a thick batter forms. Add the flour and whip only another 30 seconds or so. The flour may not be completely incorporated, not to worry. Picking up the nearest spatula, add the raisins and fold them in.

Scrape the mixture into the pan and bake on a middle rack for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely, then de-pan them by picking up the tin foil and lift the whole mass out. Cut into 2″ square and serve!

7 thoughts on ““French” Brownie Recipe”

  1. I’ve been eyeing up your website for some time, and then well I finally decided I’d make something. The mixture definitely looked lighter before it was put in the oven than yours, could have been the chocolate or over whipped. Anyway they were the best brownies ever. The sugar dinitely came to the top and broke up when cut but it reminded me of meringue which just made them better

    1. Glad to hear it, Amber!

      These brownies seem to have more variation in the finished product that many others, probably because of the whipping and the differences that can be introduced by different types of chocolate. Just so long as they taste good! 😉

      Thanks for the email!

      – Joe

  2. I just made these, but I added a cheesecake swirl. They were delicious, but a little spongy. Could this be due to me handbeating the eggs? I beat them for four minutes and the color lightened slightly and the eggs thickened noticeably.

    1. Whoa, that sounds amazing, Natalie! Yes it sounds like there were a few too many air bubbles in there, hence the texture. Still I wish I had been there for one!


      – Joe

  3. Hi,

    Great website, I’ve been learning a lot about the science behind baking, it’s very interesting and useful to know. Is this french recipe using the Muffin method of baking or the creaming method. I’d lean towards muffin as the dry and wet ingredients are combined together at the end briefly before transferring them to a baking tray? As opposed to the creaming method of the classic recipe. Are there any advantages of using one over the other for the same recipe?

    1. Hey James!

      Yeah this is a tough call. This recipe involves the very “Euro” method of creating an egg foam first. That’s something that’s typical of sponge cakes. It goes by the name of the “whipping method”, you can find out more about it here: http://joepastry.com/2011/the-whipping-method/

      But there are definitely advantages of one mixing method over another, depending on what the ingredients are. Have a look at the Baking Basics section where all the various mixing methods are discussed in detail. And feel free to get back to me with any questions!


      – Joe

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