Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Po, you literally just posted a brownie recipe. And you swore it was perfect! And you also mentioned about 1,000 other brownie recipes you have! You are a woman obsessed. Okay, I might have gotten that wrong. I know it’s not all about me. Maybe you’re actually thinking gosh, I’d love a grilled cheese sandwich right now or truly I wish I could leave work and go get a margarita right now. Maybe you’re worrying about your daughter or trying to remember when your next dentist appointment is or wondering if it’s appropriate to read Harry Potter in public after the age of fourteen (the answer is yes).
Mind-reading isn’t one of my many skills (I kid, I kid), but I would imagine you are a little puzzled by all this talk of brownies. Even a serious chocolate lover might question the need for not one but two recipes in the span of a week.
I’ll start by saying that “need” might be a strong verb choice here. Rather, you would benefit greatly from making this recipe—and adding it to your list of easy, memorizable baking skills.
Here’s why: these are not just any brownies. They resemble a classic brownie—the same crackly sheen on the top, the same fudgy texture, the same deep chocolate flavor. But there’s more to them. Upon first bite, one friend turned to me with his mouth full and mumbled “these are so good” and then quickly followed up with “but what is the flavor in them…cherry?” I laughed and said no, and tried to get him to guess again. He couldn’t.
That’s because the secret ingredient here—almond paste—is so subtle. It doesn’t add enough nuttiness that you can identify what it is, but it makes the brownies more nuanced and flavorful. It also helps to maintain a very fudgy texture without making the brownies too soft.
Personally, I like to underbake my brownies slightly (what can I say, I live on the edge), and the almond paste helps to add some structure to them even when underbaked. They’ll firm up as they cool, and it goes without saying that they are very good frozen. (Sorry, are you tired of me talking about frozen brownies? Too bad. Can’t stop, won’t stop.)
I should mention that I am—ahem—a little bit addicted to almond paste. I add it to everything: apple pie, chocolate chip cookie dough, and waffles. I put it in biscotti and muffins. Evidently this has not gone unnoticed—when I posted a photo of last week’s perfect fudgy brownies, someone commented saying “but no brownie version with almond paste yet…” and I thought, “MAJOR OVERSIGHT”.
This isn’t solely a flavor thing: almond paste improves the texture of so many baked goods, too. It makes cookies a little chewier, waffles more tender, and cakes more moist.