White Chocolate Brownies with Meringue

We have officially acquired a house.  Though we crossed the threshold yesterday as its new owners, it doesn’t feel like ours yet.  Maybe it’s because it’s vacant, its open spaces like a daunting, gaping maw ready to swallow us whole and envelop us completely in adulthood responsibility.

I think once we put some of our stuff in there it’ll feel homier.  I’ll think about the black hole of adulthood later, when the plumbing backs up, or a tree falls down on the house. (Knock on wood.)

Even though we’re not moving out of our apartment until the 14th, there’re already two realtors coming by today to show the place to potential lessees.  Anyone ever had their place being shown while they were still in it?  Like physically there.  I’m going to sit in the dining room and pretend nobody is judging how messy I am.  Sigh.

I’ve heard that baking cookies before showing property is beneficial, as the smell is welcoming and inviting, making people feel at ease.  Since we don’t own this apartment though, I’m not baking cookies.  Maybe I’ll set out a plate of these brownies, or maybe having people look upon my adorable house bunny will suffice.

More brownies for me that way.  While these bars aren’t the most photogenic (yeah, my meringue is a little strange looking) they’re still mighty tasty.  Imagine a dense, chewy brownie flavored by white chocolate and ground almonds.  Plus a crispy, slightly sweetened meringue shell on top.  You know you want to.

White Chocolate Brownies with Meringue

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes one 9×13” pan (about 30 brownies)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup finely ground almonds or almond meal

½ tsp salt

1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest (I used lemon zest)

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the meringue topping:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

pinch of salt

½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×13” pan and place the pan on a baking sheet; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, and salt.  Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of only-just simmering water.  Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolate and stir frequently until the ingredients are melted.  You don’t want them to get so hot that the butter and white chocolate separate, white chocolate can be finicky, so keep an eye on it.  Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan of water.

Working in another large bowl, rub the sugar and orange/lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  Add the eggs and beat for about 3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla.  Carefully blend in the melted butter and chocolate, then mix in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they disappear into the batter.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Set aside while you make the meringue.  (Or skip that step if you wish.)

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until they are foamy and just turn opaque.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream.  Whip the whites until they form firm, but still glossy peaks.  Gently spread the meringue over the brownie batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine ended up in the oven for close to 50), or until the meringue is browned and crackly and the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.  To make sure mine were done, I looked at the bottom of the pan to see if the bottom of the brownies were uniform.  This will obviously only work with a clear pan.  Once yours are done, transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature in the pan, then cut and serve!

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