While I haven’t had any insatiable, violent cravings during the pregnancy, I do find myself wanting something sweet on a daily basis. Brownies had been on my mind for a while and with all this spending on baby/maternity things, I wasn’t up for shelling out $7 for a minute slice of so-so brownie. Plus, I knew I wanted to eat more than just ONE slice. I wanted to be able to eat a brownie a day for at least 3-4 days in a row. Uh Huh. Pregnant women rights.
So one fine afternoon, feeling most confident and armed with the easiest looking of brownie recipes, I attempted baking these all by myself. With success on the very first try and all mine to savour, I’ve definitely developed a biasness for this keeper of a recipe. It yields a moist, chewy, intense dark chocolatey brownie, perfect with some vanilla ice cream or simply unadorned. A dear friend whom I met up for tea the following day, couldn’t help but eat 7 cubes all by herself, one after another.
Best Cocoa Brownies
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar – I cut it down further to 200g and the sweetness was just right for me
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) – I used 82 g
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt, as that’s what I use on a regular basis)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 170°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
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 it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon (I used a metal 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.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter. This took me about 30 minutes but I suggest you start testing from 25 minutes.
Let cool completely on a rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.