White Chocolate Brownies
This recipe makes a large pan of bars, perfect for a party or for gift giving. Be sure to use good-quality white chocolate here, not imitation white chocolate chips. I like to use Callebaut chocolate, which is available in chunks in the bulk or baking section of natural foods stores. If you like, replace the vanilla with kirsch.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 12 by 18-inch jellyroll pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each end, and spray with cooking spray.
Melt in a large saucepan over low heat:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
Add and stir until melted:
15 ounces white chocolate, chopped small
Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then stir in:
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
Stir in just until smooth:
3 cups all-purpose flour
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is golden and the bars are just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool completely in pan, then run a knife along the sides. Place another jellyroll pan on the bars and invert them, then peel the aluminum foil from the bottom of the bars. (Be careful not to leave any foil behind.) Place a sheet of parchment on the bottom of the bars and re-invert them back into the original pan. Spread warm ganache (recipe below) over the top of the bars, sprinkle with nonpareils or other decorations if desired, then let the ganache cool completely (chill in refrigerator if possible, to make sure it is firm).
To cut bars using a cookie cutter, place a sheet of clean parchment on the surface of the bars, place another jellyroll pan on top, and flip the bars over. Cut shapes from the sheet of bars with a cookie cutter (cutting the bars while upside down prevents the chocolate ganache from smearing the sides of the bars).
Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then add 14 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Stir the mixture until smooth, reheating over low heat if necessary to completely melt the chocolate. Let cool slightly before pouring over the pan of bars.