For a long time whenever I made brownies I would always use a boxed mix. Even though I rarely used cake mixes and love making cakes, cookies, and all kinds of other pastries from scratch with brownies it was always Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. This wasn’t because I was particularly lazy about brownies but because in my opinion the box always tasted BETTER. Whenever I tried different brownie recipes some turned out too cakey, others too liquid-y, others didn’t have the crackly surface on top and so on. That is until I found Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies Recipe.
Basically Alice Medrich found out that the way to create a perfect brownie in terms of texture and a crackly top is to control the amount of fat which determines the texture and the amount of sugar which creates the candy-like crackly top. So by omitting chocolate which has cocoa fat, emulsifiers and additional sugars and having only fat from butter and sugar from granulated sugar you can create a perfect brownie. The end results are super chocolatey, very fudgy and perfectly crackly every time. Whenever I make these they are a hit and the recipe adapts wonderfully to any kind of nuts/marshmallows/thingsyoumixintobrownies you want to throw in when you are in the mood for something more flamboyant than plain chocolate brownies. It’s grown up dark chocolate brownies but sweet enough that anyone will enjoy it. I have made these plain, with coconut, swirled with crunchy peanut butter, topped with white chocolate + crushed peppermint candies, and with chocolate ganache. However this iteration with fat swirls of Nutella might just be one of my favorites in terms of how easy it is to make vs. how delicious it is to eat.
The best part of this recipe is that you can do it all in one pan with no need for whisks or multiple bowls. This is particularly lovely if like me you have no dishwasher. Also known as one of the downsides of living in an authentic albeit renovated 1930s style apartment…on the plus side with ceilings like this I can probably have a 13 foot Christmas tree if I do please. Note that in the original recipe you combine all the ingredients in a bowl set over a double boiler. This seemed extraneous and unnecessary and I’ve always done it in a pan over the stove and it turns out wonderful so….yeah. INGREDIENTS: ALICE MEDRICH COCOA BROWNIES WITH NUTELLA SWIRLS Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter 1 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cold large eggs 1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces all-purpose flour 2/3 cup of Nutella (or more if you are wild at heart) 1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. 2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a pan over low heat. 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. 3. Turn off the heat and wait until the mixture is only warm, not hot. 4. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. 5. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. 6. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. 7. Spread evenly in the lined pan. 8. Plop somewhat evenly spaced spoonfuls of Nutella over the batter in the pan. 9. Take a knife and then swirl these into the batter. Swirl enough there is Nutella over the entire cake but make sure the little rivulets of Nutella are thick enough that you will be able to taste them. When in doubt, add more Nutella. 10. Bake until a toothpick in the center emerges only slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. 11. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. Keep in an airtight container and keep them out of the fridge, these are better served room temperature or slightly warm.
SO MANY PICTURES OF BROWNIES.