Tuesday, February 9, 2010


My New Favourite Brownie

I think I've found my favourite brownie recipe. It contains no 'chocolate' as such but is made with cocoa powder - but still yielded amazing results! I've been tempted to try this recipe since seeing it on Lemonpi, but held it off until a few days ago, when you know, I missed mixing and weighing ingredients - this baking itch that just had to be scratched. I wanted to bake something that can be done quickly, but also giving satisfying results.

Maybe some may start question - "a good brownie? with no chocolate? Is that possible?!" Well it is indeed! I love this brownie recipe to bits! I hate to admit, but I think that the best brownie texture comes from Betty Crocker's brownie mix - it has the chewy, semi-crispy crust that I associate with perfect brownies - but a) call me a food snob, but I never bake with mixes and b) brownies from box mix have near to no chocolate flavour at all, just a bland crumb coloured brown that is not appealing at all.

But oh my, this brownies hit all the right criteria for the brownie I'm searching for. It has that delicate crust on top, and the crumb is not cakey but not too fudgy and cloying either - it was just...perfect. The chocolate flavour was right there, and I cut down some sugar so the sweetness was just right. I really can't believe that humble cocoa powder can give such great results -another reassurance that I don't need to spend a fortune on good chocolate for good brownies and I don't need to turn to box mix to get that perfect brownie texture! Since they are so easy and take so little time (probably shorter than time spent writing this post) and equipment to make, I'm seriously considering that I bake these once every few weeks to share at school or something - everyone loves brownies and I'm sure it's bound to put a smile on their face if you share!

Regarding printable recipes: it seems that the file is very blurry, but if you click 'Download' or Print' on the top left corner, you can save/pring the actual file which is perfectly readable.

Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet, via Smitten Kitchen
and Lemonpi
Printable Version

Makes 16 or 25 brownies, depending on size you cut them

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces, 280 grams) sugar (I cut this down to 200g – 1 cup/ 7oz)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process; I used Valrhona)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
I also added in around two tablespoons of mini chocolate chips I wanted to use up

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. (It will look somewhat gritty or lumpy, it’s fine)
5. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
6. 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.
7. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the centre emerges slightly moist with batter, around 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
8. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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