Recipes are like boyfriends: they start out fine and then either lose oomph or become obsessions. If you don't just make a recipe once and forget it, you end up showing it off to everyone you know. The thing becomes your stand-by. Until you start fiddling with it. And changing it. "Sheesh, it'd be even better if it had. . . ." Voilà: full-on obsession.
So it's been with brownies in our chocolate project. Somewhere along the way, Bruce and I got obsessed. And started fiddling. And ended up with goat cheese brownies. Yep, goat cheese. Just because. Just because you can substitute goat cheese for some of the butter in baking recipes. Just because if you know us, you know we're all about goat. Just because goat cheese adds rich, somewhat savory, almost umami notes to chocolate, notes that'll knock your socks off. Just because.
Let's get to it.
Start by positioning the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheating the oven to 350F/175C. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking pan.
Next, whisk 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set that aside.
Place 4 ounces (115 grams) chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate and 4 ounces (115 grams) chopped unsweetened (sometimes called "baking") chocolate in the top half of a doubler boiler set over a pan with about an inch of slowly simmering water. Don't have a double boiler? Set a heat-safe mixing bowl over a medium saucepan with a similar amount of slowly simmering water. Stir until half the chocolate has melted, then remove the top half of the double boiler or the bowl from the pan (watch out--escaping steam can cause a nasty burn) and stir off the heat until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons--or 150 grams) cut-up unsalted butter, 8 ounces (225 grams) crumbled soft fresh chèvre or goat cheese, and 1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy and thick, about 6 minutes.
Beat in the melted chocolate until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the inside of the bowl and beat in 4 large, room-temperature eggs, one at a time, adding the next after the one before has been thoroughly incorporated. Beat in 1 additional large egg yolk and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract.
Turn off the beaters, add half the flour mixture, and beat it in at very low speed. When creamy, beat in 1/2 cup (120 ml) low-fat or whole milk. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture at very low speed just until there are no white streaks or undissolved bits of flour in the batter. One warning: it's a stiff batter.
Pour and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. The middle may be soft but it will set up. These are pretty fudgy brownies, dense and wonderful. And goaty, to boot! Like a cross between cheesecake and brownies. What could be better?
Cool the pan on a wire rack for an hour, then cut the brownies into 24 pieces. Carefully remove them from the pan. You can store them between sheets of wax paper in a sealed container on the counter for up to 3 days--or in the freezer for months. As if any will be left.