I am nibbling on the most delicious brownie right now. Dense, chocolately, not overly sweet… and so much more awesome because I made them! Not a friend, not a box… me!
Ok, maybe I didn’t make those EXACT brownies. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen did. Mine may have been slightly less pretty, but my oh my were they good!
See, these brownies utilize cocoa instead of chocolate, which (according to Deb) makes for some subtle differences. Surprisingly, these brownies aren’t very sweet… but they also aren’t bitter. They are just really dense, rich, and delicious. The only fat comes from butter (instead of butter and cocoa butter as in chocolate) and the only sugar from sugar (instead of sugar plus milled sugar in the chocolate). That makes them a bit more pure, a bit more snobby, and my new favorite brownies.
Major plus? Usually I can pound brownies like there is no tomorrow, but these are so rich that I can actually feel satisfied after one. Does that mean I didn’t eat three last night? Well, no… but I did spread them out over at least two hours instead of eating them all in one feel swoop.
So, for your baking pleasure:
Best Cocoa Brownies from Smitten Kitchen (partially rephrased by moi!)
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Put your rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325F. Line a 8×8″ baking pan with foil, leaving some dangling over the edge. This makes removal MUCH easier!
Put butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heatproof bowl and set in a skillet of barely simmering water (note: this is DIY double-broiler, btw). Stir occasionally until butter is melted, mixture is smooth, and it is 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 to cool until it is warm, not hot.
Stir in vanilla with wooden spoon (note: my plastic spoon seemed to do no harm!). Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter is thick, shiny, and well-blended, add flour and stir until you can’t see it, then beat for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula (note: again, plastic spoon to the rescue!). Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter. Apparently the original recipe says 20-25 minutes, but mine took just under 35 to set. Let cool on a rack.
Remove from pan (see how easy it is with the foil??), cut,and eat!
Next time, I want to experiment with adding cocoa nibs for over-the-top chocolate indulgence. Almost makes me kind of yearn for “that time of the month” when all things chocolate are especially appreciated… almost!