Monday, February 15, 2010

The Kind of Brownie I Like

I just made some amazing brownies. When I pulled them out of the oven, a little undercooked, it seemed like they were going to fall apart. I started imagining all baked goods in which the crumbs never fuse together, but instead form individual crumblets that stay in the pan shape until cut into. Like a Monet you've come too close to, or a dream that disintegrates when you wake up.

But with brownies, as with life, patience is a virtue, and once the recalcitrant crumbs had cooled down, they formed a dense chocolaty interior with a glistening crust, and held together just fine when I lifted my second piece out of the pan (just to be sure it was any good).

This was the kind of brownie I liked. Dense and gooey and not at all cake like. Not too sweet, with a dark chocolate richness enhanced with a touch of espresso. No nuts, no frosting, no embellishment of any kind.

There are a lot of brownie recipes out there. Besides the wide variety of plain ones, there are recipes for mint brownies and cheesecake swirled brownies and caramel brownies and the brownie's sweeter, gentler younger sister the blondie. And you could try all of them. You should try all of them, to find the kind of brownie you like. Take your time and enjoy the search.

Double Chocolate Mocha Brownies (Gourmet, Dec 2002)

This recipe uses unsweetened chocolate squares, but cocoa powder works just as well. Since cocoa powder is just unsweetened chocolate separated from the cocoa butter, you can substitute one for the other by altering the butter or fat in the recipe. The substitution rate I've seen is 1 oz unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon butter. Don't be fooled by the chocolate chips in this recipe. They melt away and you'd never know they were there. If you're like me and hate a strong coffee flavor, cut the espresso in half. Also, I cut the recipe in half, using 3 oz chocolate and 5 tablespoons butter, in an 8x8 pan, and baked for only 15 minutes. It was perfect.

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 5 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant-espresso powder or instant-coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Love this recipe. As you may recall, I served these at two tailgates this season. One for Minnesota (double), and one for greatest hits :)

  2. Yes, I remember! That's how I found it. I just needed to reduce the amount of espresso for my own personal taste.