Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies

For as long as I can remember I've used boxed brownie mixes to get my brownie fix. With a cup or so of chocolate chips as mix-ins, they always came out pretty decent, so why mess with a good thing? is what I asked.

I've been reading too many food blogs, however, and seeing recipe after recipe for good homemade brownies finally put me over the edge. In addition, this recipe is practically a one bowl recipe when you use the microwave to melt the butter and chocolate together. So I decided to give it a try.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Via Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet

  • 10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 c flour

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each interval, until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to the touch. (It will still look gritty at this point.)
  3. Stir in the vanilla. 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. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Per Smitten Kitchen I used a heaping 1/4 tsp of flaky sea salt, but felt that it could have used more. Next time I'll go for the full 1/2 tsp.
  • I used a blend of natural, dutch process, and black cocoa powder, because I couldn't decide which to try. I also discovered that I have 7 different types of cocoa powder, and possibly an addiction to purchasing high-quality baking ingredients.

Verdict: Do I even need to say it? They were delicious! Smooth and fudgy, with rich chocolate flavor offset by a good bit of saltiness -- and easy enough that I won't even bother keeping a box or two of mix around for emergencies.