28 February 2010

Sunday brownie Sunday

I found the basis of this recipe on the fantastic website Smitten Kitchen and have been tweaking and perfecting it for the last few weeks. Deb Perelman (who is the voice of Smitten Kitchen) pronounced these the Best Cocoa Brownies. I'll take it a step further and pronounce them the best damn brownies I've ever made or tasted anywhere. They have the perfect texture, Deb Perelman describes it as "chewy and candy-like." She's right. One of these babies with a cup of coffee in the morning and that's what I call the breakfast of kings.

Brownies made with cocoa have a richer flavor, and by the time you add in the semi sweet chips what you're in for is a bittersweet chocolate fantasy. Really. These things are a snap to make, all it takes it a little patience and about 45 minutes. Life's too short to eat crap out of a box. Remember that.

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square 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. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.

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 and chocolate chips. 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.


  1. This is my favorite all time brownie recipe. I am definitely going to try the Smitten Kitchen recipe though. What could be better than a brownie bake off!?!?

    Martha Stewart Brownies from
    Favorite Comfort Food cookbook

    12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in pieces, plus more for pan
    8 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona, roughly chopped
    4 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp. salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Grease 9x13 inch baking pan with butter, set aside.

    In the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth; stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, granulated and brown sugars, and vanilla, and beat well with a wire wisk.

    In a separate bowl, combine the sifted flour and salt.

    Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

    Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the brownie comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.

    Let stand on a rack in the pan until cool. Cut into 3-inch squares and serve. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 2 days.

    Yield: Approx. one dozen 3-inch squares

  2. Thanks Sharon, that sounds like a good one too. Martha's sounds like a variation on my old stand bye, the one I based on the Baker's Chocolate one-bowl recipe. I'll take a crack at Martha's next weekend even though she doesn't call for walnuts. How can you have a brownie without walnuts? Hmmm.

  3. You're trying to bump me off my diet plan aren't you? I feel like I need to go to the gym just for reading this!

    That being said.. this is my favourite brownie recipe.

    Butterscotch Brownies
    (from A Guide to Good Cooking ~ approx 1968)

    preheat oven to 300F

    In a small bowl mix together:
    3/4 cup flour
    1 tsp baking powder

    Over low heat, in a small pot mix together:
    1/4 cup butter
    1 cup brown sugar

    Allow to cool slightly and then add:
    1 egg, slightly beaten
    dry ingredients

    When mixed, add in:
    1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans in these)
    1 tsp vanilla

    Bake in a greased & floured 8 inch square pan for 25 - 35 mins.

    I think I make these more than any other kind because you can make them in a pot so there's very little mess. They have a really yummy brown sugar flavour too :)

  4. Oh my, I've been craving brownies, and reading these recipes has put me over the edge. I'll start with yours, Paul, using gluten-free flour (I have to) and cutting down the sugar (again, I have to, and have gotten used to it). But the walnuts, they definitely stay in; what's the point of brownies without them?? If I remember to I'll post my results... Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Wow! It's a brownie bake-off, virtual-style! Anna: That recipe will work fine with less sugar and the gluten free thing shouldn't make too great a difference, there's only 3/4 of a cut of flour to begin with. Be sure to let me know how it goes.

    Nim: One egg and baking powder sounds like a cakey brownie. Yes? I'll add your recipe to my rotation. Thanks!

  6. Brownies for breakfast? Way too much refined sugar for that hour of the morning. Red raspberry oatmeal muffins satisfy the sweet tooth without the guilt.

  7. No guilt! A reasonable portion size has less sugar than a Pop-Tart or a Nutri-Grain. Have you ever read the label on a Nutri-Grain? Sheesh, they're worse than pop tarts. What's the total sugar (from all sources) amount in a cranberry muffin I wonder?

  8. There's a huge difference between those commercially produced fake foods and the real thing.

    Yes, I agree that brownies are wonderful in the right circumstances (especially after dinner with a nice cabernet sauvignon). It's just the thought of so much sugar coursing through my veins early in the morning that's bothersome. The caffeine from my skim milk latte is enough to get me heart going without the added sugar.

    Reasonable portion. Hmmmm! I wonder if the three muffins I had this morning constitute a reasonable portion if I was out working it off half the afternoon startung to put in the spring garden:-)

  9. I'm just busting your chops Roxanne, I am happy to have you commenting. It's family time around here today. First I ran a photo of Pauline and now you're leaving comments. I like it!

    You know, it's funny about portion sizes. The older I get the smaller they have to be to keep me from morphing into my brothers. Hah!

  10. Mmmm. Scharfenberger. Did you know there is a Scharfenberger champagne? Same guy, but he sold. It's one of our most favorite wines. at $20 (approx.) a bargain.

  11. I did not know there was a Scharfenberger champagne, but I do know I'm mad for the chocolate.

  12. Portion size - at some time in our lives we realize that we don't need to "eat the whole thing" to enjoy the experience.

    Yes, it's great to connect with family. Love having you in my life. Wish you could have tasted the pot roast - to die for!

  13. Well, you can either jump on a plane and come down here for them or you can whip up a batch for yourself. Go for it Kathy, I believe in you.


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