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A Sublime Brownie

In Butter, Chefs, Chocolate, Cookbooks, Cookies - Bars, Dessert, Recipe, Vanilla
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My friends over at Food52 showcased this recipe recently in their "Genius Recipe" feature, and if the picture above doesn't sell you, a single bite will convince you that the Food52ers sure know how to pick'em.

It's been a while since we've made brownies around here, so I suppose there's a chance that brownie deprivation had something to do with the ravenous welcome these treats received among my gaggle of chocoholics.  That said, I don't care if you've been eating a brownie every day for the past month, if dark, fudgy brownies are your thing, these killers are gonna rock your world!

This recipe is from famed baker (and confirmed chocoholic herself) Alice Medrich and can be found in her amazing book Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate.  The "genius" part of this recipe is that Medrich strips a standard brownie recipe bare, then reconstructs it using elemental ingredients so that she can carefully orchestrate the balance of the cocoa, sugar and fat for the optimal result.  How does she do this?  By crafting a recipe that doesn't call for melted chocolate (which contains fat in the form of cocoa butter, cocoa, and added sugar), she uses only cocoa powder, then adds the fat (butter) and sugar discretely to achieve her ideal of brownie nirvana.

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The result?  Brownies that are as dark as night, dense and dangerous to their core, and packed with such a pure chocolate flavor that they'll leave you breathless.  

Make them and experience pure genius first hand.  Go now....you know you want to.

Cheers - Steve


Best Cocoa Brownies

by: Alice Medrich, from her cookbook "Bittersweet"

(Print Friendly Version)



  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon 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 (unsifted, measure by stirring briefly, spooning into the measuring cup until it's heaped above the rim, then leveling it with a straight-edged knife or spatula)
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)



  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325℉.  Line the bottom and sides of a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil (or use a silicone pan, sprayed with baking spray like I did), leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. 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 in to test.  remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20-25 minutes (mine were perfectly done at 23 minutes).  Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board.  Cut into 16 or 25 squares.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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