After massive googling, I discovered the best cocoa brownies recipe from smitten kitchen. It had simple ingredients that I had on hand, and came together relatively quickly. The only thing that was frustrating was that every time I inserted the toothpick tester, I couldn't really tell if it was "done" - the tester is supposed to come out "slightly moist with batter" and every time I poked it I was convinced it was undercooked. However, even baking it an extra 10 minutes (meaning I went 40 minutes instead of 30), the brownies still taste soft, moist, and thankfully, unburned.
Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies (this is the 16 larger brownies)
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, cold
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
- Position rack in lower third of your oven and preheat to 325. Butter and line a 8x8 pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides.
- Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Set it over a pan of barely simmering water. Since I am convinced I'll make every pyrex bowl I own explode when I do this, I simply put the ingredients in the microwave for 1 minute at 50% power. You do not want the mixture to get hot - just warm. Stir until the butter is melted and smooth-ish - the mixture will look gritty - the important thing is to make sure everything is combined.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Add eggs one at a time. (Lazy me added both at the same time.) Stir vigorously after each egg addition.
- When the batter looks thick and shiny, add the flour until combined.
- Beat batter vigorously for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Stir in nuts, if using.
- Pour and spread in prepared ban, and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick tester emerges slightly moist with batter. (note: it will always emerge moist with batter.)
- Allow to cool in pan completely on the rack, and then remove from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. As you can see, my edges are not perfect (seriously, it's close enough, I tried to clean it as much as I can) and I used a very sharp ceramic knife. You can try freezing them for a little while to get the brownies to set even more and it may cut cleaner.