The Best Chocolate Brownies
I’m just gonna come out and say it - BRAVETART is my favorite new cookbook. I can honestly say Stella Parks is as lovely in person as her recipes are delicious, having had the opportunity to say hi and have my book signed at a recent event in the Boston area. She is friendly and humble, and her recipes are BONKERS good.
I’ve been a huge fan of her blog for years, and about a year ago when she joined the staff of Serious Eats I couldn’t have been happier. Even better, she’s super responsive on twitter, making my most perplexing unexpected baking experiences much less stressful. But to the most important point, her cookbook is the perfect balance between innovation and creativity, and tradition and home-baking. Every recipe I’ve made of hers is a winner (my own favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is based on hers!), and these brownies are no exception.
They are the perfect balance between having a true brownie texture with a crumb, and being moist and fudgy without being fudge brownies. They are deep and intensely chocolatey, thanks to the triple crown of chocolate brownies: cocoa, melted chocolate, and espresso powder. But also - browned butter?! She so crazy. And yes there are plenty of brownie recipes you can make without a mixer and they’re good, but this one is GREAT. Whipping the eggs + sugars for a long time until they’re thick and fluffy is key in getting the dense crumb and the wafer-thin glossy brownie crust on top. (In these pictures I had topped them with this frosting, cause, why not?)
But enough gushing from me. Bake these brownies, buy her book, and be a happier and better baker for it!
MAKES 25 small brownies /16 large brownies
Slightly adapted from Bravetart. Recipe cut in half for an 8x8 pan. Original recipe is double these amounts for a 9x13 pan, except for salt which is originally 1.75tsp.
1/2 cup / 2.25oz AP Flour (Stella prefers Gold Medal unbleached all purpose)
2/3 cup / 2oz Dutch-process cocoa powder
1.5 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup / 3oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped (about 72%)
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons / 8oz sugar
2 Tablespoons / 1oz light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if using regular table salt)
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
baking spray or extra butter or shortening
stand mixer with whisk attachment (or large mixing bowl with hand mixer)
medium saucepan & whisk
measuring cups + spoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 pan with heavy duty aluminum foil (use THIS tip!) and spray with baking spray or grease the bottom & sides with butter or shortening.
Measure out 2.25oz AP flour (1/2c) and 2oz Cocoa (2/3c), and then sift them together.
In your saucepan, brown 1.5 sticks of butter (see this recipe #2 for instructions on how to brown butter)
Remove from the heat then add 3oz chopped dark chocolate, and stir until melted and combined.
Combine 8oz sugar (1c + 2TB), 1oz light brown sugar (2TB), 3/4tsp kosher salt, 3 eggs, 1.5tsp vanilla, and .5tsp instant espresso in your stand mixer and whisk on medium high until thick and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
Add your chocolate/butter mixture and beat on medium low until combined.
Add your cocoa/flour mixture and beat on medium low until combined.
Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of your mixer bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is fully combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake 20-25 minutes, until glossy and just barely firm. If you want to use a tester make sure there's no raw batter, but don't overbake - they're done even if a few moist crumbs cling to the toothpick.
Set the bars aside to cool to room temperature, then cut into whatever size brownies you'd like. They'll keep at room temperature in tupperware for up to 1 week. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. Good luck with that.
If you'd prefer to freeze them, leave the brownies in the tray after they're cooled, then chill in the freezer for 1 hour, or until they're hard enough that you can remove the whole slab at once from the pan. Wrap them in one layer of foil (you can leave them in the foil you baked them in, but wrap them again if it won't completely cover them), then in another layer of plastic wrap. They'll be good in the freezer about 6 months.