Today we’re having a birthday party for my daughter, who is turning two. TWO. Half of me is in complete denial about this; the other half is self-medicating with chocolate and sugar.
My daughter is opinionated and shy and fierce and funny (so funny) and verbal and stubborn. She’s a lot like me, and utterly unlike me at the same time. One thing we will probably always share, however, is a passion for brownies. (I realize this is hardly unique; who are these people who claim to dislike chocolate, anyway?) So for this birthday bash, we’re having brownies instead of cake.
As soon as I finish up this blog post, I’ll be baking a double batch of my longtime, all-time favourite brownie recipe. These brownies are good enough to make you weep. They’re also brilliant because they use melted butter, cold eggs, and cocoa powder instead of chocolate, so they’re perfect spur-of-the-moment brownies. You can also make it gluten-free by directly substituting any GF flour for of wheat flour. We like teff but really, anything goes.
Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies (from Bittersweet, 2003)
- 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)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
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. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
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.
Bake until a toothpick plunged 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 the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.
There are a lot of brownie recipes out there, but this is the one I’m prepared to stand by. How about you? If you love brownies, what’s your go-to? And if you are one of the unicorns who really doesn’t care for chocolate, please speak up!