Call it a bad case of brownie envy: a month or so ago, I found myself reading and rereading an article on Food52 about Alice Medrich’s best cocoa brownies.
Medrich’s brownies are the [still evolving] end-product of years of experimentation wherein various kinds of chocolate in different levels of intensity were used and eventually swapped for really good cocoa powder melted together with the butter and sugar.
The method she used is actually the same as that for the cake brownie recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook: you melt the butter and sugar over medium heat in a saucepan with the cocoa, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Just one pot; no need for another mixing bowl. Melt, mix, pour into your baking tin, and bake – et voila.
My version actually features both cocoa powder and chopped-up dark chocolate, along with coffee to really amp-up the flavor of the chocolate. I’ve toyed with the proportions of flour and cocoa and finally settled on a 1/4 cup cocoa to every 1/2 cup of flour. I’ve done away with the milk in the original TBH&GNC recipe and swapped it for a cup of instant cappucino prepared with hot water.
The end-result of this particular experiment? Brownies that are more fudgy and dense as opposed to being cakey and fluffy; a moist, dark treat that fills your mouth with loads of smoky chocolaty goodness pushed up by the salt in the butter and the caramel overtones in the brown sugar that partly sweetens this particular recipe.
Baking the brownies for only 15 minutes as opposed to the 18 – 20 minutes called for in the original recipe also keeps the finished product lushly moist.
I know the name of the recipe is a tad superfluous, even pompous, but it’s the only way I can properly describe them. Truth be told, the ended up like the brownies we used to buy at Goldilocks when I was a wee kid; Goldilocks doesn’t make brownies like these anymore, so I’m better off baking them myself.
Incidentally, this is the sort of brownie whose flavor improves over a day after baking and an overnight rest in the fridge. They’re much lusher, certainly more moreish, and more decadent that way. Don’t forget the glass of cold milk!
Most Definitely Magnificent Fudge Brownies
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (get the darkest you can find)
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs
- scraped seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (save pod to make vanilla sugar or infused rum/vodka)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond or hazelnut flavoring
- 1 packet instant cappuccino, dissolved in enough hot water to make 1 cup of liquid
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 100 grams frozen dark chocolate truffles, coarsely chopped
- 100 grams 65 – 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate-covered raisins, cranberries, or blueberries, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped unsalted mixed nuts (I used Kirkland Unsalted Mixed Nuts which contains cashews, pecans, pistachios, and almonds), divided
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably an enamel one) over medium heat, melt together the sugars, cocoa, butter, shortening, and vanilla. Cook whilst stirring constantly until the fats have all melted and the mixture starts to boil. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4; grease a rectangular baking tin.
Stir in the prepared cappucino and mix well. Whisk the eggs into the cocoa mixture until well-combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda; mix until well-combined. Add half the nuts and all the chopped chocolate and stir until more or less well-distributed throughout the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the remaining nuts. Bake for 15 minutes; remove immediately from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes before cutting.
Makes approximately 36 squares.