Lacy Coconut Brownies

The other day at my new job (that’s right, I’m a working lady now!) my boss asked me if I’m planning on sticking around Madison for a while. What followed was an anxious, jumbled mess of words as I tried to figure out what my current go-to line was about my thoughts for the future. (I’ve been rotating between various phrases, all of which I like to end with a smiling “we’ll see what happens” and a quick segue into another topic of conversation.)

This was always my favorite part of making brownies – pouring the white sugar into a bowl of deep, dark chocolate.

But currently I have no line, no plans, and a little spike of panic whenever someone mentions next fall, because next fall is a giant question mark for me. But I do have a job, and those moments of panic are quite manageable compared to the constant nagging stress that has been the past month.

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So anyway, I wrapped up my confused answer with, “I guess I don’t really know what I’m doing,” took a deep breath, ignored the puzzled look on her face, and tried to accept that.

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I feel so fortunate and grateful to have a job right now, and I am focusing on that. I made these beautiful brownies in the moments after hearing about the job, feeling anxious and excited and needing to do something with my restless energy and my final day of freedom.

IMG_5080  They are sublime. Not fudgy or cakey, but in a category all their own – they are soft and velvety, rich and chocolatey, and topped with chewy coconut macaroon. They disappeared in record timing, so be prepared.

Lacy Coconut Brownies

recipe adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

–I highly recommend this cookbook. Alice Medrich writes reliable, creative recipes, along with excellent instructions and thoughtful touches, such as ways to substitute for different types of chocolate and how to best line a square baking pan.

makes 25 brownies

For the topping:

1 large egg white

Scant 1 1/4 cups unsweetened dried flaked coconut (aka coconut chips) or 1 cup sweetened dried shredded coconut.

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Large pinch of salt

For the brownies:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, cold

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil. First prepare the macaroon topping – Combine the egg white, coconut, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a heatproof mixing bowl. Set the bowl in a skillet/pot of barely simmering water. Stir with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly. The mixture will turn from translucent to opaque.

Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop while you make the brownies.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it in the skillet/pot of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly.

Remove the bowl from the water and stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and stir well. Stir in the flour and beat vigorously with the wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy and begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Use your fingers to drop the macaroon mixture in a lacy layer over the brownie batter. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the brownies puff at the edges and the shreds of coconut become deep golden brown and crusty.

Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Transfer the brownies to a cutting board and cut into small squares. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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