Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cocoa Brownies

I never really had a high appreciation for cocoa powder, preferring recipes that use "real" chocolate. To me, it just wouldn't feel like the baked good has much substance if the only chocolate flavour comes from cocoa powder. This was the attitude that I displayed when I first encountered this recipe for cocoa brownies on Smitten Kitchen. Well, I did bookmark the recipe, since it does have the superlative "best" attached to its name. However, my snobby attitude got the better of me and I neglected this recipe for a while, only to return to it when I didn't have enough bittersweet chocolate in the house.

May I now say that I was very wrong? I've been converted to love cocoa powder. This recipe yields the darkest, fudgiest brownies that I've ever tried that do not include chocolate chunks. The best part is it is very easy to make with pantry staples, one of which is the star of this recipe, the humble cocoa powder.

I think I even dare to say that this has now become my go-to recipe for brownies. I used almonds because that's what I had at home, but walnuts or pecans would be great, too. I've since made two batches of this, and I'm a bit brownie'd out at the moment, but for sure I will make this again the next time I crave for brownies!
Cocoa Brownies
recipe from Smitten Kitchen
yields 1 8x8-inch pan's worth of brownies

10 tbsp (140 gr) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed, but natural will work too)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup your choice of nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second increments until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. (Alternatively, you can do this step on the stovetop using a double boiler.) It will look gritty, but that's okay for now. Let cool.

3. Stir in the vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. When everything is blended and shiny, add the flour and stir until the batter is well-mixed. Then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Stir in nuts, and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

4. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool completely on a rack before slicing.


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