I love when reality TV makes me feel better about my life. That’s prety much the main objective of it, isn’t it? With this season of Great British Bake Off, I’m feeling like maybe I’m a better baker than I thought. Some of the bakes actually seem easy to me, but not as much if they have an emphasis on style and presentation.
In episode 4, which focused on chocolate, the bakers were tasked with making brownies and most of them didn’t do very well. Brownies can be tricky at times, and it’s possible they didn’t have much experience with brownies, as it is an American dessert. I would have liked to see at least one of the bakers win over the judges with a classic brownie recipe.
Last week, my mom asked me to make brownies for her birthday dinner. I had offered to make an ice cream pie, like the one at Islands restaurants, but she said a brownie sundae bar might be better. My sister Mary shared a favorite brownie recipe recently that I thought about using. But it seemed slightly complicated, so I went with a recipe for cocoa brownies. Halfway through, I worried it would be a fail. The batter was thicker than I expected. It looked different than the photos in the recipe, but I had made some slight changes. I seriously considered running to the store for a back up dessert. I went ahead and baked them any way, thinking I could still rush to the store before the dinner. The brownies actually came turned out great. Good thing I didn’t give up on them! You’re going to want to try them too.
Do you prefer your brownies to be cakey, chewy, or fudgy? I like brownies that are either chewy or fudgy, but I don’t care for cakey brownies. If you’re going to make cakey brownies, well it seems that you’re almost making chocolate sheet cake. I like my brownies to have some bite to them. There are differences in the recipes of each type of brownie, depending on what you’re going for. These brownies are fudgy and dense with a good amount of chocolate.
You don’t need to temper any chocolate. You will need to melt the butter with the cocoa, but that’s simple. You can use a small saucepan to gently melt the butter, or you can use the microwave. I opted for the microwave.
If you like this recipe, you may also like:
- Chocolate pear loaf
- Small-batch no-bake chocolate tahini cookies
- Molasses chocolate chip cookies
- Banana coffee cake
These fudgy brownies are easy to make and have a double dose of chocolate, coming from both the cocoa and chopped chocolate bar. There is no tempering required. The recipe is adapted from the Best Cocoa Brownies recipe on Deb Perlman’s blog Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe is originally adapted from Alice Medrich’s book Bittersweet.
Fudgy cocoa brownies
Yield: 16 brownies
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, may vary by brands) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2 ounces semisweet chocolate bar, cut into 1/4″x1/2″ chunks
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°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 small saucepan on low. 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. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Or, you can melt the butter with the cocoa in a microwave. To microwave, place butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heat proof bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between. It should be done in 60 to 80 seconds total.
Both methods: Set the bowl aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t worry — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.
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 with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate. Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter. Let cool completely on a rack. You can take it a step further and place the brownies in the fridge or freezer for a while, so that you can more easily get clean lines when you cut into them.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board once they are completely cool. Cut into 16 squares.
Note: Use the best cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate you can. I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder and a Ghiradelli semisweet baking bar. Guittard is one of the best chocolates, but let’s be real. I didn’t see it at a store near me, or have it in my budget this time.