I seem to go through stages where I crave certain foods. They play on my mind, niggling away, demanding to be eaten and tormenting me with all the choices. A few weeks back it was cheesecake – my birthday peanut butter cheesecake being the delicious results. These past few weeks I’ve been hankering after brownies.
“Ok, make a batch of brownies then” you might think, but I have yet to find my ‘perfect’ brownie recipe and have you ever tried searching the internet for a simple chocolate brownie recipe? The results must roll into the hundreds – if not thousands of different recipes, each one claiming to be ‘the best’ ‘the ultimate’ the ‘walk over hot coals good brownie’ leaving me bleary eyed and undecided about which one to try.
After a while adaptations of the same recipe kept popping up. A brownie recipe made by Alice Medrich called Cocoa Brownies which is made entirely with cocoa powder and no melted chocolate. What? A brownie recipe without any chocolate, how can that be good? Yet everywhere I saw it, it got rave reviews. So in the end I decided to test it for myself and this became my brownie recipe to end my brownie cravings.
The recipe is incredibly quick and easy to put together and uses only a saucepan and a spatula, meaning the clean up was quick too. The batter was dark, rich and glossy and smelt intensely chocolaty thanks to the large amount of cocoa powder called for. You’d never have guessed it didn’t have melted chocolate in there.
I used my new brownie pan to bake it in. A clever tin with a removable base with handles and even a centre divider that you insert before baking to allow the brownies to be baked in equal serving sizes. I think it also helped the outside pieces cook evenly, although my two middle pieces were definitely more under baked and gooey than the rest (not that I’m complaining!)
The finished brownies had the characteristic wafer thin sugary top crust with soft and gooey chocolate brownie underneath. They had a slight chew to them and a deep rich cocoa flavour, that certainly wasn’t missing the chocolate. I really liked how the bitter cocoa helped keep the brownies from being overly sweet.
They were very light in texture but defiantly headed more into the fudgy category rather than the cakey category. I baked them for 20 minutes but I may try just 3-4 minutes longer next time as the centre ones were a little too fudgy for me.
Incredibly moreish; they definitely satisfied my brownie craving. Alice Medrich refers to these as ‘The Best Cocoa Brownies’ and they may in fact be ‘the best’ cocoa brownies, but to me they are not The best brownies, close but not quite. I fully aware that everyone’s brownie preferences are vastly different and these are still delicious brownies so I’d encourage you to have a go and see for yourself.
Fudgy Cocoa Brownies
(Adapted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich)
140g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
80g Gluten free (or plain) flour (I used Doves brand)
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line the base and up two sides of a 9inch square baking pan with baking paper (or base only if using a brownie tin).
Dice the butter into cubes and add to a saucepan along with the sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Heat gently, stirring every so often, until the butter is melted and combined with the cocoa powder and sugar. Beat briefly with a spatula to fully incorporate the ingredients – it will look grainy at this point - and remove from the heat. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl until broken down before beating into the chocolate mixture, a little at a time. The batter should become smooth and glossy.
Scatter over the flour and beat in using a spatula. Start in the middle and work your way out towards the edge to prevent it clumping.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until a thin crust has formed and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached, but no actual liquid batter.
Allow the brownies to cool in the tin before removing with the help of the baking paper or handles of the brownie tin.
Once cool, refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting. This helps get a clean cut.
Cut into 12 brownies (or smaller for brownie bites).
Eat and enjoy!