Thursday, June 30, 2016

Best Cocoa Brownies

I love brownies. I didn't love that my previous go-to recipe required me to buy a bar of unsweetened chocolate (but damn, they were fudge-y.)  Sometimes you just want to make brownies with the big ol' jar of cocoa powder you have on hand.

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.

best cocoa brownies from smitten kitchen

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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in vanilla.  
  4. Add eggs one at a time. (Lazy me added both at the same time.)  Stir vigorously after each egg addition.
  5.  When the batter looks thick and shiny, add the flour until combined.
  6. Beat batter vigorously for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  7. Stir in nuts, if using.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.

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