Brownies can be baked in a million variations, and I think I may have met them all: cakey, fudgey, frosted, out of a box, made from scratch, some with nuts, some without. Caramel-swirled, cherry-studded, creme de menthed and cheesecaked.
But what if you’re craving an old-fashioned brownie? An honest-to-goodness, real-deal, crackly-topped, densely-rich brownie?
You pour yourself a glass of milk and make a batch of these.
With a perfectly yielding, chewy texture just shy of gooey (I’ve never had a brownie with a better texture; this is sink-your-teeth-in time) and the silky darkness of bittersweet chocolate, this recipe is a classic interpretation, the stuff of bake sale dreams.
If you have the option, opt for chocolate bars with around 60% cacao. Chocolate only has to be about 35% cacao to meet the FDA’s (pretty lax) standard of “bittersweet”, (and 15% for semi-sweet) but can range up to 70-80%. With that much variance from one bar to the next (in terms of food labels, it is the rootin’-tootin’ Wild West here in the States, just about anything goes), your chocolate might not taste as, well, chocolatey, and appropriately dark for a rich batch of brownies. Using a favorite dark chocolate or looking for cacao percentages will help. There’s plenty of sweetness to stand up to the cocoa in this recipe, so if you’re a dark-chocolate fanatic, you can go even darker, up to 70%. I added chocolate chips and nuts for a little extra textural oomph, but they’re easily omitted.
And I’m not kidding about that glass of milk.
adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
- 6 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (6 oz)
- 1 C + 1/3 C sugar
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 C walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper so that you have a few inches of overhang on two sides.
Bring a medium saucepan with a few inches of water to a simmer. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl that can fit on top of the saucepan (not so close that the base of the bowl touches the water). Melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
Take off the heat and add the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until incorporated. Sift in the flour and fold in to combine, making sure to scrape up the batter at the bottom of the bowl . When there are just a few streaks left of flour, fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips, if using.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is flaky but still soft in the center. (A cake tester won’t really work for this recipe.) Let cool completely in the pan. Slide a knife down the sides of the pan without parchment to loosen the brownies, then grasp the parchment and lift out to cut and serve.
Note: you can also use a 9×13 pan; decrease the baking time by 5-10 minutes.