Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cocoa Brownies

I am always on the look out for easy, fast, but yummy dessert recipes because you just never know when the urge is going to hit or the need is going to arise for something sweet, and you don't always have time to wait for butter to soften.

Brownies from scratch are generally pretty easy to begin with, but I like this recipe because the main ingredient is cocoa rather than chocolate. Around here I can buy cocoa by the barrel load, but all my chocolate has to be bought in candy bar form with candy bar price. So needless to say, I have more cocoa laying around than chocolate.

These mix up really quickly, and only bake for 25 minutes. So from start to finish you could be done in 45 minutes to an hour max. I always double the recipe and put it in a 9 by 13 pan because I think that an 8 by 8 pan of brownies is just a travesty. How can that little pan ever satisfy my brownie desire? And for next to no extra effort, why not make a bigger batch to share (or hoard)?

Now the flavor of these brownies will largely depend on the quality of cocoa that you use. Higher quality will give you a more luxurious taste, but cheap cocoa will still give you a decent brownie. When I make these from the cocoa I get here, I think it tastes like it has a hint of cinnamon, which might be a nice addition if you want to try to jazz these up a little.

One last thing, you should definitely do the old parchment paper liner trick for these. It makes it that much quicker to go from pan to mouth. Enjoy!

Best Cocoa Brownies
from Sunday Nite Dinner

[printable recipe]

  • 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)
  • Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.
Chocolate note: Any unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder works well here. Natural cocoa produces brownies with more flavor complexity and lots of tart, fruity notes, which maybe more exciting for you. Dutch-process cocoa results in a darker brownie with a mellower, old-fashioned chocolate pudding flavor, pleasantly reminiscent of childhood.
Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies 


Anonymous said...

No way...those brownies look unbelievably good! The bakery down the street from where I live doesn't make brownies looking this good!

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