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Gail Simmons' Decadent Brownie Bars And Healthy Fudge Brownies

Updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue, Sep 14, 2010

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Food & Wine editor Gail Simmons, who's best known as a judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" and new spin-off "Top Chef: Just Desserts," shares her recipes for delectable espresso shortbread brownie bars and health-conscious brownies. 

Espresso Shortbread Brownie Bars

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Brownie Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Make the shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350° F. In a food processor, combine the butter with the flour, sugar, ground espresso and salt; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Press the crumbs into a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan to form a crust; prick all over with a fork. Freeze for 5 minutes, until firm. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30  minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile prepare the brownie topping: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa, salt and baking powder. In a  large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over low heat. Remove the  saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the  eggs. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the brownie batter is smooth. 

Pour the brownie batter over the shortbread crust, smoothing the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, until the brownie top is dry and  lightly cracked around the edges; the center will still be a bit soft. Let  cool completely before cutting into bars.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch process
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. Sift together the flour, cocoa,  baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and the remaining butter. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate, then the applesauce. Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until  combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, or  until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, then cut into squares.

Nutrition Info For One Brownie: Calories 113 kcal, Protein 1.3 gm, Carbohydrate 20 gm, Cholesterol 20 mg, Total Fat 3.6 gm, Saturated Fat 2 gm

First Published: Sep 14, 2010 1:19 PM EDT

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