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Recipe: Midnight chocolate brownie bites

July 2, 2008

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Former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane, who retired this year, was one of the best bakers we've ever known. Pies with flaky crusts, cakes with delicate crumb, she could do it all. Few recipes have better demonstrated that than these fabulous chocolate brownies, which she developed for a story about classic summer picnic food. Start with a deliciously dense combination of bittersweet chocolate, dark cocoa and mini chocolate chips, and add a bright flash of citrus from orange liqueur and peel. Simply amazing, whether you eat them indoors or out.

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: Makes 25 brownies

Note: From Times test kitchen director Donna Deane

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter plus more to butter the dish

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1 1/2 teaspoons lightly packed grated orange peel

2 eggs

1/4 cup best-quality cocoa

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the foil.

2. Melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over simmering water until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and Grand Marnier, then the grated orange peel.

3. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until completely blended and the mixture is shiny and smooth; the mixture will be thickened at this point.

4. Sift together the cocoa, flour and salt, then stir the flour mixture into the batter until blended. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffed and almost set. Do not overbake. Cool while still in the pan, on a wire rack.

6. Lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil as a handle, and invert the brownies onto the cooling rack. Gently peel off the foil, then return the brownies to their original position. Cool completely. Cut into 25 squares, trimming off the edges if desired.

Each serving: 134 calories; 2 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 27 mg. cholesterol; 21 mg. sodium.