Monday, January 11, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies

It's Sunday, 8:46 PM when a craving for a little something sweet suddenly hits me like a ten ton truck. Normally this is not an issue, but with the painful Arctic temps Chicago has been experiencing I am in full hibernation mode...i.e., NO GROCERIES.

I feverishly scour the cabinets to see what ingredients I have on hand and find an unopened container of Scharffen Berger cocoa powder...SCORE! After a quick search on the Internet, I ran across this recipe. Sweet tooth crisis averted.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

  • 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)

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-inch square 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.

This recipe makes what I call the perfect brownie - a chewy (not cakey) middle with a thin crust.

1 comment:

  1. Great brownie. When in doubt, use cocoa powder. Great advise, Dawn! The only thing missing is the tall glass of ice cold milk to go along with them!