Brownies are like yellow layer cake. It’s not easy to find a good substitute for the chemically laced boxed variety. Here is a recipe that succeeds. These brownies are chocolatey and moist, a perfect midway between the dry and crumbly and the heavy and dense.
And they’re really easy to make.
About Dutch-processed Cocoa
An ingredient alternative to unsweetened cocoa powder that I’ve discovered, and believers profess, brings chocolate baked goods up a grade is Dutch-processed cocoa. (Click here for information on the difference between Dutch-processed and other cocoa powders.) I have not been able to find it on the grocery store shelves but circumstances recently put me in the vicinity of the amazing Berkeley Bowl Market. The bulk section alone could draw you in for hours, scanning, scooping, bagging and coding. My limited time was unfortunate given the grand and overwhelming bounty. I left with a meager and odd assortment – cupcakes, chicken broth, oranges and Dutch-processed cocoa. I’ve made these brownies with the Dutch-processed and with Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa and both batches were great. But I do plan to keep this new-to-me variety on hand for recipes that specifically call for it.
You can find it reasonably priced by the pound with free shipping on Amazon.
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 13-15 mins | Yield: Approx. 16 brownies
- 10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (or white)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
- 1/8 cup sifted powdered sugar (optional)
- Position rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F.
- Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a saucepan or a medium/large microwave safe bowl.
- Slowly melt butter and dry ingredients on the stovetop or microwave (approximately thirty second intervals depending on the power of your microwave), stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth. With my microwave, it’s 30|30|20 seconds.
- Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly (is warm to the touch not hot). It will look gritty but will become smooth once the other ingredients are added.
- While it cools, 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. Lightly grease with cooking spray or butter and set aside.
- Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
- 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 wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
- Mix in nuts. (optional)
- Spread evenly in the lined dish.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Let cool completely on a rack.
- Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner and transfer to a cutting board.
- Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar if desired.
- Cut into squares and serve.
Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe