"These little squares of chocolate-nut heaven are the brownies of my dreams."
I don't know why exactly, but lately I've been exploring the brownie culture of New York. On one foray to Chelsea Market, I tried brownies from Sarabeth's, Amy's, and Fat Witch, and found all of them lacking in one way or another. I despaired of ever finding a truly terrific brownie in New York until I came upon one in a truly unlikely spot: the cookie plate at Del Posto. I know brownies aren't Italian, but Del Posto executive pastry chef Brooks Headley insists that his brownies are really just a slightly gussied-up version of a torta Caprese, a traditional Italian dessert. In the end, it really doesn't matter what Brooks or anyone else calls it. These little squares of chocolate-nut heaven are the brownies of my dreams. Brooks generously agreed to share his recipe with serious eaters (and even suggested a baking soundtrack). Thank you, Brooks. Here's what he had to say about it:
This is a new addition to the Del Posto cookie tray. It's a really simple and fairly traditional Italian sweet. I bake it in a sheet and then cut it into miniature squares. I like to top it with a sliver of walnut that I roast with olive oil, sea salt, chili flake, and a pinch of cumin, then finish with a single drop of aceto balsamico tradizionale for a much-needed umami blast. It ends up looking like a "brownie alla Nonna," ("grandma brownie")—rustic but full of chocolate and nut flavor. It also seems to capture that perfect Italian dessert feel—kind of crumbly and just barely supporting its own structure.
This is also a very easy recipe, good for busy parents, beginner pastry cooks, and lazy folks. You almost cannot mess it up. It's best made while listening to the first Ramones record. Keep it simple and fun. It's also gluten-free.