This recipe’s from the end of the summer, back when I made those incredible chocolate chocolate chip cookies, and at the time I thought, “this has GOT to STOP!” This was the second game-changing recipe I’d found in short order, a recipe for a food I’d never really fancied before but has now finally and completely understood.
Today’s case in point: brownies.
I know part my previously “meh” attitude towards brownies has to do with the fact that my mom never made boxed cake mixes, or even cookies. In fact, she rarely made sweets, but when she did they were always traditional Dominican ones. But what I’m starting to realize as I expand my cooking and baking repertoire, the biggest problem, as I’ve noted before, is simply never experiencing a proper specimen.
Before I tried this recipe, I always associated brownies with those overly-sweet, often-dry confections found at catered events. You know, the ones at the office brought in for you to snack on while your meeting runs over in the conference room, or a school-sponsored event made for schmoozing. The brownies were always too rich, too sweet, and to be honest, kinda boring.
So what inspired me to try this recipe? I’m not really sure. Maybe I knew, deep down, that unless I tried to make these myself, I would never really know what good brownies could be. And these brownies are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD! Dense but not overly sweet, and if you’re big on freezing baked goods the way I am, you’ll love knowing that if you microwave them straight from the freezer for 15 seconds, they are simply divine. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you may as well call it a life. I still have a few in the freezer, and I have to say it’s pretty easy to keep myself from eating them: I don’t want them to finish!
Do yourself a favor and make these brownies. Slice ’em up into tiny squares so that when the craving strikes, you won’t feel so bad about giving in.
Dark as Midnight Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
10 Tablespoons (1.25 sticks) unsalted butter
1.25 cups sugar
3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch-processed is fine… I used Dutch-processed)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cups walnuts (I think I used more like 1/3, because this is optional and I just wanted a bit of something to cut the richness of the chocolate)
1. Position rack in lower third of oven, and preheat to 325 degrees F.
2. Line a square baking pan (bottom and sides) with parchment paper or foil, allowing extra paper or foil to hang out of the pan (all the better to pull the brownies out in the end). If you don’t have a square baking pan (I don’t), here’s an easy fix: use a rectangular pan, and fold your parchment as if you did have a square pan — fill the extra space in the rectangular pan with beans or lentils, and this will serve as a “fourth wall” of sorts for what you’re about to bake.
3. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, combine butter, cocoa, sugar, and salt and microwave for about 30 seconds or until melted (a double-boiler method would also work). Your mix will be a bit gritty/crumbly, but all’s well. Go on to step 4.
4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in vanilla.
5. Add eggs, one at a time and stir vigorously until smooth and shiny.
6. Now add the flour and blend until it is invisible, then give it a good 40 strokes (that’s what the recipe says!)
7. If using nuts, add them now and stir a bit to combine.
8. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a fork poked in the center comes out clean.
10. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before pulling the parchment out of the pan and lifting out the brownies, or place the whole pan in the fridge for a few minutes to speed up the process.
11. Cut into bite sized squares and freeze in a ziplock if you’re like me and need help curbing the urge to down them all with a big glass of milk.
Dark as Midnight Cocoa Brownies