The event itself was outstanding, but the epiphany that green tea and dark chocolate belong together was even more significant. I started experimenting with the two, and soon happened upon perfection: the best brownies in the world, made with matcha, or powdered Japanese green tea.
Imagine the romantic ideal of Romeo and Juliet, Petrach and Laura, Abelard and Heloise in food form- and without all those messy suicides and unrequited love. The slight bitterness of the matcha and the chocolate, carried by the richness of the sugar and butter, dance together like nothing you've ever put in your mouth before.
The original brownies were found in Regan Daley's verbose but seductive cookbook In the Sweet Kitchen. The quantities of butter and chocolate may seem excessive, but I've tried countless other brownie recipes and nothing- absolutely nothing- measures up.
They're rich, intense, and for a solid food, somehow more moist than any liquid.
They're the best thing to ever come out of my kitchen, and worth their weight in gold. If you make nothing else, make these. Anyone lucky enough to be bestowed with one and a cup of matcha will be your love slave forever.
Makes: 28 brownies.
7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, in small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon matcha
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Walnut halves (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt chocolates and butter over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, matcha and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly to blend. Add sugar and whisk for two minutes, until mixture is thickened and pale. Whisk in vanilla.
4. Pour chocolate into egg mixture and whisk to blend. Sift flour mixture over the batter in three additions, folding each in gently with a rubber spatula before adding the next.
5. Scrape batter into prepared pan and place walnut halves on top, if desired. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the surface is shiny, just set and beginning to show cracks at the edges. Do not overbake.
A few tips: If you've never melted chocolate before, keep in mind it must be done slowly, over very low heat, to avoid burning. There's no way to rush this step. When folding in the flour, do so in as few strokes as possible- this prevents the gluten in flour from activating, which would make the finished product tough and chewy (great for bread, but not for sweets). And do watch carefully after about 30 minutes of baking: If cooked too long, the brownies will lose their moist, gooey texture and may start to resemble those from a Duncan Hines baking mix. The horror.