Immediately after I finished yesterday’s post, I resolved to make brownies. What I wanted were regular, fudgy brownies that would compensate for the lack of deliciosuness that was the brownie pudding. I briefly considered the fudge brownie recipe on the back of my King Arthur flour bag (also available here), but it calls for Dutch process cocoa and chocolate chips, neither of which I had. Also, after reading about the difference between Dutch process cocoa and natural cocoa (which is what I have in my cupboard), I felt a little wary of recipes that only called for Dutch processed. I feel like there are situations in which they could be easily subbed for one another, despite what the article I linked above claims, and people have made the King Arthur recipe with natural cocoa without any problems. But it was the kind of day where I needed a sure brownie thing.
Enter the recipe for the best cocoa brownies, originally published (or so I’m told) in Alice Mendrich’s book Bittersweet, and featured (where I first encountered it) on Smitten Kitchen. This recipe was the perfect because it specifically calls for either Dutch process or natural cocao and required nothing more than what was already in my kitchen. I whipped these up pretty quickly while Aidan was watching a baseball game, and they had baked and almost entirely cooled by the time the game ended.
I followed the recipe exactly as its written on SK, except that I decided to opt out of any nuts and I melted the butter in with the cocoa, sugar and salt using the microwave. I just cut the butter up into individual tablespoons and stirred it together as best I could with the other dry ingredients. Then I popped it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, pulled it out, stirred it and then repeated the whole process until the butter was completely melted and I had a soft, grainy, well-combined mixture on my hands. From there, I just followed the instructions as written.
All in all, these brownies are a definite WIN. They are seriously chocolately and seriously delicious. Deb from SK wrote that these brownies would appeal to fans of box mix brownies because they share a similar texture, which Aidan and I can both testify to. But, as Aidan said last night, they are a lot richer than your basic Duncan Hines mix. They are about as far from a cake-like brownie as a brownie can be, but they aren’t gooey at all. In fact, they almost have a kind of creamy fudge-like texture to them. Also, for the first time in my life, I finally understand what people mean when they talk about coveting the chewy outer edge of brownies. Because the edges of these brownies are, indeed, delightfully chewy–miles away from the crispy, over-baked edge of brownies that always has me reaching for a piece from the center of the pan.
I put a lot of pressure on Aidan when I make him try the things I make. I have to force myself to look away while he’s eating because otherwise I will watch his face waiting for a reaction, which is high on his list of “Really Annoying Things Anna Does.” Last night, as we were sampling these together, I asked him if he thought they were good enough to make again and again. To which he replied, “Yeah . . . but I don’t think you should give up the pursuit of the perfect brownie yet.” Which made me stubbornly think, if I feel like never making another brownie recipe again that is exactly what I’ll do and you will like it. But I’m apparently already over being obstinate, because as I was looking at the aforementioned King Arthur recipe, I thought to myself, I seriously need to try these. And so I will heed Aidan’s advice and not give up the search for the best brownie just yet. But until a worthy challenger steps up, this recipe will continue to wear the crown.