Dakota guy has feelings about brownies. They can’t be too cakey. The should have a bit of a skin on top. They should NOT have nuts. Or frosting. So, when he declared that these brownies were the best it was certainly a win.
These brownies have the advantage (in my opinion) of being cocoa brownies. I don’t always have baking chocolate on hand, but I do always have cocoa in the pantry. Especially since I ordered a bulk quantity of dutch process cocoa powder. The first time I made these brownies I used natural cocoa which is all that is available in our grocery. The improvement was evident with the dutch process. If you are curious David Lebovitz has a good explanation of the difference between the two types of cocoa and situations when you can and can’t substitute.
The best brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams, though some brands may weigh more) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to sprinkle on top before baking if desired)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (if you want to ruin them with nuts)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°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. (I just sprayed the pan with baker’s joy, and used a 9×9 because I don’t own a 8×8)
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. 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. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is warm. This time I just did this step in the microwave, checking and stirring every 45 seconds until the mixture was combined and the proper temp. It looks fairly gritty at this point.
Stir in the vanilla. 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 for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.