04 August 2009

Recipe: Epicurious Best Cocoa Brownies

Chocolate (Bangor) BrowniesAnother version of brownies called Bangor Brownies from the UK - Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: Epicurious is such a great resource online! I've been following them off and on for years now. This is a recipe from 2003 with over 250 reviews.

Second in this week's series on brownie recipes... I'm always looking for easy method recipes that involve chocolate for the beginner cook. Sometimes, I just want fast and easy minus the preservatives when I don't have much time to bake but am craving something wonderfully chocolate; brownies are usually a fast fix. I'm after that intense perfect chocolate taste! :)

Yield: Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

Note from Epicurious: Cocoa brownies have the softest center and chewiest candylike top "crust" of all because all of the fat in the recipe (except for a small amount of cocoa butter in the cocoa) is butter, and all of the sugar is granulated sugar rather than the finely milled sugar used in chocolate. Use the best cocoa you know for these fabulous 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.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the 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. I think it's more exciting. Dutch-process cocoa results in a darker brownie with a mellower, old-fashioned chocolate pudding flavor, pleasantly reminiscent of childhood.

From Denny: Here's an interesting twist on baking this reviewer tried: I use epicurious a lot but had to become a member just now for the sole purpose of reviewing this recipe. Three words that may change your life: coarse sea salt. I sprinkled large coarse crystals of sea salt on top of the batter prior to baking. This could also probably be done right when they come out of the oven. Words cannot describe how delicious they are. My boyfriend and I are both currently intoxicated with these brownies.

by gardengnome from Boston, MA on 07/26/09

From a reader in the UK who gives a substitute take on this as well as the equivalent temperature to bake: Will definitely make these again. I agree with another reviewer - the 'crackly' crust really only appeared when the brownies were cut but it did appear a bit, and the brownies were fantastically chewy and chocolatey. Baked for 20 minutes at 160 degrees Centrigrade (the equivalent of the Farenheit temperature listed in the reipce) in a fan oven. Spot on. I had run out of real unsalted butter so I used half 'slightly salted 'spreadable'' butter* (and reduced the salt) and I only had supermarket 'own brand' cocoa, but the brownies were still excellent. I look forward to making them with all real butter and better quality chocolate, but I'm thrilled to find a good chocolatey recipe I can make from a couple of eggs and not much else: Actual chocolate doesn't stay in my storecupboard for long ;-) * in the UK we have 'spreadable' butter which comes in containers like margarine and is butter with a little bit of added oil to make it easy to spread straight from the fridge. The brand I buy is slightly salted.

by justinepow from Edinburgh, Scotland on 07/07/09

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