How to Make Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies
When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: Find beauty in the mayhem. This weeknight-friendly, deceptively simple take on a chocolate brownie will help.
Friday morning. I stare at twelve duck legs, two frozen lamb shanks, and twenty sausages. I don’t quite believe it, but by Sunday night, in order to celebrate multiple family birthdays, this pile of meat will morph into an enormous pot of French stew. I open my recipe journal from this time last year to find notes on how to make a cassoulet. It was so delicious that I want to replicate every last detail. I search and search. I finally concede that I didn’t write anything down. I burst into tears. I’m on my own.
Saturday morning. The beans are simmering with salt pork. The duck legs are smothered in salt and garlic and bay leaves. The lamb is seared off. I am making shit up as I go along, but I am optimistic. While bashing garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste into a purée, I start thinking about the post-cassoulet dessert. It must be chocolate. It must be elegant.
Saturday afternoon. My hair reeks of meat. The dishes are climbing. My legs are cramping. I fly up into a handstand. My son cackles as my cooking clogs go flying across the kitchen. I’m not laughing. I exhale out an upside-down rant.
Dash. What am I going to do? The oven isn’t big enough to accommodate both the duck confit and braised lamb and they both take five hours so they must enter the oven together or I will not be able to make dessert tonight and it needs be done so I can assemble the cassoulet in the morning.
Whatever, mom. It’s just food.
I float down.
Come here. Sit in my lap. It’s not really the food that’s upsetting me. It’s just the fact that another year has passed. And parents are broken records about time. And how it flies.
What’s a record?
I’ll tell you later. Will you help me? Let’s take the racks out of the oven and try to make this cassoulet work.
Late Saturday night. Miracle of miracles, all cassoulet components are braised, simmered, confited, browned, and refrigerated. More than anything, I want to be handed a martini, picked up and carried to bed, and given a vigorous leg massage. But no one is offering. And I still need to come up with dessert. I have this nagging desire to make flourless chocolate cakes with molten centers but I haven’t taken them on in years. I don’t even know where to start. I spy my cupcake pan and that’s all it takes to slam my fancy chocolate fantasy down to earth. I know what to do. Those perfect Alice Medrich brown butter brownies that I made a few weeks ago will save me. I pull the details up on my phone. I’m relieved. I double her recipe, spoon the batter into cupcake molds, and hide a chocolate chunk surprise deep in the middle of each.