The Ultimate Brownie

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A few years ago I set out to find the ultimate brownie recipe. I tried many recipes. It was fun research. I liked this recipe the best as it has everything I want in a brownie – rich, dense, fudge-like and an intense chocolate flavour. The fact that it is really easy to make is just a bonus.

The original recipe is by Alice Medrich, the First Lady of Chocolate. I am yet to buy one of her books but I think I must as I keep reading about Medrich’s wonderful desserts on so many other blogs.

I have used this recipe many times and it’s always a winner. If you prefer more fudge-like consistency then I recommend that you use dark brown sugar; use granulated white sugar if you prefer a more cake-like texture. But the most important tip for great brownies is to not overcook them!

In the spirit of experimentation, and in consideration of my arteries, I made a batch where I substituted the butter and eggs for plant-based alternatives. It didn’t quite have the same mellowness as the brownies based on butter but the difference was very subtle. I do find it quite reassuring to know that I can still make a batch of irresistible brownies even if I don’t have any butter or eggs in the fridge. I have listed both recipes below so you can choose for yourself which you prefer.

I like to add some chopped chocolate in the final stage of mixing. I think it adds another dimension in both flavour and texture. Here are a few suggestions for some extras to add in:

walnuts (about 1 cup) and milk chocolate (about 100g), all chopped
macadamia nuts and white chocolate
walnuts or pecans and chocolate coated coffee beans
pistachio nuts, craisins and white chocolate
walnuts and dried fruit such as glace ginger, dates or prunes

How do you like your brownies? Do you add nuts or other ingredients?

Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s book Bittersweet (via The Stonesoup and Smitten Kitchen)

150g (5oz) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup (225 or 9oz) sugar
3/4 cup (80g or 2 7/8oz) Dutch process cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup (75g or 2 1/2oz) plain flour

Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Line the bottom and sides of a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) baking tin with baking paper. Leave an overhang of baking paper as it makes it easier to remove the cooked brownies from the tin.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cocoa and thoroughly stir until the cocoa is completely mixed in and there aren’t any lumps. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and mix. Add the flour and gently fold through until only just combined; be careful to not over mix. Now is the time to add any extra chocolate/nuts/fruit and gently stir in. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

It’s best to let the brownies cool before cutting. Dust with a little icing sugar or cocoa before serving. I think they are better the day after baking.

Vegan Brownies

110g or 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup (225 or 9oz) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup (80g or 2 7/8oz) Dutch process cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (75g or 2 1/2oz) plain flour

Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Line the bottom and sides of a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) baking tin with baking paper. Leave an overhang of baking paper as it makes it easier to remove the cooked brownies from the tin.

Place the vegetable oil, sugar and applesauce in a large bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cocoa and thoroughly stir until the cocoa is completely mixed in and there aren’t any lumps. Add the salt, vanilla and vinegar and mix. Sift together the baking powder and flour then add it to the mix and gently fold through until only just combined; be careful to not over mix. Now is the time to add any extra chocolate/nuts/fruit and gently stir in. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

It’s best to let the brownies cool before cutting. Dust with a little icing sugar or cocoa before serving. I think they are better the day after baking.

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12 thoughts on “The Ultimate Brownie

  1. wow- these look so beautiful. I will definitely try them. I’ve never made brownies with cocoa powder though, I’ve always used chocolate. Do you think this makes much of a difference?

    1. Thank you! Apparently using cocoa instead of chocolate does make a difference to the texture. Cocoa butter is harder at room temperature than butter. So a brownie made with chocolate will have a higher cocoa butter content and will be firmer.

  2. A lot of people say these are the best brownies around. I have a fallback recipe I always use that includes chocolate but these do look deliciously dark and fudgy. I’ll have to give them a try!

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