If the name Dominique Ansel is not familiar to you, then I guess it’s not useful to tell you that he’s the owner of the famous Dominique Ansel bakery in Manhattan (SoHo, to be precise). But you’ve definitely heard of his most famous invention: the cronut, that croissant-doughnut hybrid that set the culinary/tourist/Instagram world ablaze back in 2013. Hours-long lines stretched all the way down the block to get a taste of Ansel’s pastry genius. And yes, of course he has a James Beard Award. With a reputation like that preceding him, it’s sort of humble and charming that the title of his 2014 cookbook is Everyone Can Bake.
But as if to prove it, this week, Ansel shared with Salon a recipe from his cookbook that might appeal to anyone restlessly wondering what to bake next: his go-to chocolate brownies. “I fell in love with brownies when I moved to America,” Ansel explains. “My favorite pieces are the corner edges—I love how the top crunches at the first bite, yielding to a chewy middle. You don’t often find this combination in French pastries.” This is the first time I’ve ever considered that French pastries might be lacking in anything whatsoever, but he has a point.
The recipe can be applied to a classic pan of individually sliced brownies, or you can bake them in a round cake pan to use as the base for a mousse cake. The ingredients are pretty standard; it’s the technique that might be new to some home bakers. The sugar is divided and a third of it gets dissolved into the melted butter in a saucepan on the stove before whisking the rest with the eggs. Ansel’s recipe also has a nice tip for dusting your prepared pans with cocoa powder instead of flour, so that the final product doesn’t have any white spots on it. “Like a chocolate chip cookie, people have preferences when it comes to brownies—they’ll either seek the soft, gooey center pieces or the chewy edges,” says Ansel. “This recipe gives you the best of both.”
If you lack the ingredients for Ansel’s version, you can always go with a boxed mix from the grocery store. We have some fresh intel on which of those are best.