Beth, one of my cheesemonger friends at NYD, gave me the idea to put chunks of cheddar in brownies. Seriously? I somewhat skeptically made a batch, folding pieces of Montgomery’s Cheddar into the fudgy batter. Still warm from the oven, the cheddar chunks were almost like white chocolate bits, “or like cranberries or something!” Connor noted, with their pop of sweet, soft, pliable delight on his tongue.
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.
CHEESE, WINE, AND BREAD by Katie Quinn Copyright © 2021 by Katie Quinn. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Hear co-hosts Katie Quinn and Jen Phanomrat compare notes on food practices, social norms, and the hidden histories behind beloved ingredients on our new podcast Either Side Eaters. —Katie Quinn
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- makes 24 brownies
1 1/2 cups
(3 sticks/345 grams) unsalted butter
(170 grams) dark chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
(400 grams) granulated sugar
packed (60 grams) light brown sugar
fine sea salt
pure vanilla extract
instant espresso (optional)
(30 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups
(115 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 1/2 ounces
(130 grams) mature cheddar cheese, broken into roughly 1/4-inch (1-centimeter) cubes, plus 3/4 ounce (20 grams), broken into pieces, for topping
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-centimeter) baking pan (at least 2 inches/5 centimeters deep) with aluminum foil (it’s okay if the whole pan doesn’t get covered—just be sure to cover the bottom and long sides), leaving a few inches overhanging the sides.
- Melt the butter in a small 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 the material of the pan used. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Set aside to allow the chocolate to melt.
- Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee (if using) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or combine them in a large bowl and use a handheld mixer). Mix on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes.
- While the stand mixer is busy whipping, 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 add the flour-cocoa mixture (I spoon in the dry ingredients to gradually introduce them to the batter and decrease the cloud of flour puff that occurs from dumping it all in at once). Mix on medium speed until uniformly combined.
- Stop the mixer and remove the bowl. 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 cheddar 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 cheese pieces over the top, spreading them evenly for a nice pop of cheddar color.
- Let the brownies cool completely (this is the hard part) to allow them to set. Slide a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen them, then use the overhanging foil to lift the brownies from the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into squares, then enjoy your new favorite brownies. These keep well in an airtight container (with waxed paper between the layers) at room temperature for about a week.