My daughter’s 8th birthday coincided with the last week of school. She decided to combine her birthday celebration with the party on the last day of school, graciously volunteering me to make brownies for her classmates. At least she gave me plenty of notice so I could prepare.
I generally prefer toasted nuts in my brownies, but since these were destined for a 2nd-grade classroom, I had to adapt. Without the nuts to give them dimension, I decided to try browned butter. I’m not sure the kids noticed the difference, but it mattered to me, and that’s what counts.
The bigger problem is that, after baking the class’s batch, I wanted brownies of our own. But with batch #2 I halved the recipe in my head–always a recipe for disaster. It became apparent pretty quickly that I was using too much butter, and throwing in a bunch of extra sugar and other random ingredients would not be enough to save that batch. Though I made a valiant effort, baking them off anyway, even after an extra 20 minutes in the oven they were still greasy and quite unappealing. Sigh.
It was now after 11 PM on a weeknight and I still needed brownies. Desperately. I couldn’t snag any of my daughter’s–I had just enough for her–so I was left with only one choice–starting batch #3 and making them yet again.
By this time, I was becoming an expert at browning butter. I had started to run out of ingredients, though. This would be my final attempt–my pantry could not support another experiment, nor my eyelids. As soon as the lousy batch was out of the oven, I popped the third one in with high hopes.
Third time’s the charm, right?
These are super fudgy brownies. Rich, decadent, and filling. Which is great because the last thing I needed in the middle of the night was to eat a pan of brownies by myself. They are like that piece of high end dark chocolate you have after a meal to signal to your brain that dinner is over, but you won’t manage more than one piece because it’s just so much that you are completely satisfied with that one piece. One and done, allowing you to spread the joy out over a few days. If you want.
The verdict from the classroom? She brought only 1 1/2 brownies home out of 24. I’d say they were a hit!
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter
- 2 cups organic granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup organic brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 1/2 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 20 tablespoons 2 1/2 sticks or 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 4 large eggs chilled
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Set your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out a 9"x13" baking dish, grease it with butter and then line with parchment paper, leaving enough of an overhang to grip it so you can pull out the brownies after.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, water, salt, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently until the butter melts, foams twice, and then stops foaming, revealing little brown bits in the butter. This will take 5-7 minutes.
- Pour the browned butter over the dry ingredients and stir until combined well. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool a bit.
- Stir in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next. Stir the last until the batter is nice and shiny.
- Dump all the flour in at once and stir about 50 times, making sure the scrape the bottom of the bowl so that you don't end up with pockets of flour.
- Spread into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top has a nice crunchy layer and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with crumbs on it.
- Cool completely before removing from the pan (using the parchment paper sling), slicing and serving.