I have baked so many brownies in the past couple of months, so in my mind, I thought A. I should not bake brownies today and B. Nobody would be interested in reading about them. I forgot that I had never posted a recipe for brownies on this blog thus far, with the exception of one that still lingers in my ‘Drafts’ because it was the batch of brownies that made me sick of brownies for a good few weeks. Which is a tragedy altogether. These brownies exceed most brownies I have ever eaten. You are probably thinking,”And who are you exactly? I’ve never heard of you or your blog.” I won’t convince you as to why you should take my advice, because in the culinary world, I am nobody but someone who loves to eat. Since almost everybody loves to eat, I remain insignificant. My blog is new and has no readers (except you….if you’re actually there or I’m just talking to my imagination), so I really have no comeback for that one. Hmmm…yeah, I guess you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Yeah, right. Like I’m the only one who knows about these brownies? Let’s say I am a tad over fashionably late on this one.
Plenty of people love these brownies and discovered them before me…including Craving Chronicles, Try Anything Once, Culinary Covers, In Good Taste, and even a Gluten Free version at Tasty Yummies..just to name a small handful that popped up on a Google search. I am just bringing this recipe to you, incase you miraculously (like me), missed it before.
My craving for brownies suddenly started coming back to me after I baked Cook’s Illustrated’s ‘Classic Brownies‘ for a party with a lot of family members who love to eat. I ate one before surrendering the rest to various family members, whom I will gladly share my brownies with any day. When I got back into the kitchen after a few days of being out of town, there was a voice inside saying,”Noo, don’t make snickerdoodles, make browniesss” and,”You don’t want to labor over cinnamon buns, make the damn brownies!” So I told myself if I was going to make brownies, they had to be different. I knew going back to the Classic Brownies would be the easiest thing to do, except that I had only 2 ounces left of my Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. Uh, I was actually out of almost every type of chocolate but cocoa powder. So not many choices for me.
I wanted something new and something unadulterated. No marshmallows, no cheesecake swirls, no peanut butter, no, no, and no. I just want chocolatey brownies. I did a search on Epicurious, and found this recipe for Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. I left the walnuts out because I didn’t want anything in the brownies and I was also, sadly, out of walnuts too. (Can you say I need to go grocery shopping?) The recipe was super simple, and I loved that it had browned butter. Since I had tried it before for CI’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, that’s how new I am to baking, I’ve only browned butter once before) I knew it would not only give it great flavor, but that it wasn’t as daunting a task as I originally thought. I keep the heat at medium (no higher), and continue to stir with a whisk. It starts bubbling and foaming, and then it develops what looks like chili powder underneath the melted butter. At the point where it has a nice light auburn/brown color, I take it off the heat.
I am convinced that browned butter in cookies and brownies is my new favorite flavor. Move over vanilla, move over creamed butter, move over expensive chocolate. THIS is the best part of the brownie, and somehow it made it so that one of my new favorite brownies only requires cocoa powder, which means since I plan to always have an adequate amount of that, there is no need to run to the grocery store for these. I would have never guessed.
The browned butter gave it a flavor that reminded me of chocolate covered toffee, and the fact that you can get that flavor by doing nothing but lightly browning butter, blew my mind. Why people don’t do this for every single brownie recipe is beyond my comprehension.
Since my sink not full of dishes seemed very appealing to me, and I wasn’t particularly eager to change that, this recipe was even better. I browned the butter in the pan (I almost said brownied the butter O.O), added the sugar, cocoa, salt, water, and vanilla. Let it cool almost completely, but left it warm, and then beat in the eggs and stirred in the flour. That simple. I transferred it to a glass bowl just so that I could take pictures in between, but this can technically be considered a “one pan” brownie recipe with exception of the pan you bake it in. Nonetheless, my sink is not overloaded, making sink and myself happy.
What you get from these brownies is a richer, deeper, more intense flavor than you get from most brownies. Not only on a chocolate level, but the flavor of the browned butter takes it onto a road similar to that which I believe people try to achieve with putting espresso powder in their chocolate cakes and brownies. I noticed the browned butter seemed to have a subtle caramel flavor with just the right amount of salt. The balance of sweet, salty, and chocolatey for me, makes a perfect dessert. Texture wise, they were decadent, moist (without being too oily) and had a nice chew to them.
All other brownies are going to have an extremely difficult time living up to these.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter (and walnuts, optional)
Makes 16 brownies
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, chilled
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup walnut pieces – optional
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1⁄4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts (optional). Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 20 minutes (recipe says 25 mins but check earlier than that, around 20 mins, to see if they are done to avoid overcooking).
Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.