The perfect brownie is one of those relentlessly sought after objects. Also in this category is the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect mascara, the perfect chocolate chip cookie… you know the drill. I have never found the “perfect” one of any of these, but I have found many favorites which inevitably get bumped when introduced to one just a little bit better or more exciting. When the wise palates of the editors at Bon Appetit called these “one of the best brownies they’d ever had,” I knew I should give them a go. A second affirmation from my dear culinary twin, Clare, firmed up my decision.
They are fudgy in the middle and chewy on the outside with a glistening, crackled top. A little tip: Freeze the brownies right out of the oven, for at least an hour. It makes cutting these gooey confectioners much easier, and neater.
Oh, and did I mention that these are basically pantry brownies, as rich cocoa powder is responsible for the chocolate goodness? This means you can whip up a batch with ingredients you probably have right in your kitchen.
This is either a great thing, or a terrifying thing, depending on which team you’re on.
I’m on team “Let’s Make Brownies Because It’s Tuesday.”
FUDGY COCOA BROWNIES WITH BROWN BUTTER AND WALNUTS
Recipe by Alice Medrich, Bon Appetit, 2011
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 all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-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. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. 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.
*My Two Cents: I baked mine for about 30 minutes, but ovens differ so start checking at 25 minutes in.
*If you don’t like walnuts, substitute pecans or leave the nuts out altogether. Dried cherries or toffee bits would be a delicious addition as well.