All along I’ve been sheltered by this ridiculous perception that brownies have to be made with melted chocolate. That idea kept me abstained from brownies for the longest time. Who knew a dessert like this could be made with just cocoa? I’m glad I didn’t wait till I turned 60 to find out. Thank God for tastespotting and foodgawker, where I found the perfect recipe for bittersweet success.
Best Cocoa Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich by Sunday Nite Dinner
Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cold large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
- Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, add the butter and set on top of a large sauce pan with barely simmering water. Melt the butter, then add sugar and salt, and stir until well combined. Next add the cocoa powder and stir until mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
- Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
- Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
- Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.
Chocolate note: Any unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder works well here. Natural cocoa produces brownies with more flavor complexity and lots of tart, fruity notes, which maybe more exciting for you. Dutch-process cocoa results in a darker brownie with a mellower, old-fashioned chocolate pudding flavor, pleasantly reminiscent of childhood.
My Note: These tasted even better the next day (: