These luscious little beauties have been popping up all over the blogosphere lately, and though I've bookmarked the recipe more than once, I've been skeptical about how good they could really be. My preferred brownie recipes have always incorporated melted chocolate into the batter, and even though I had yet to find that brownie (you know, THE ONE, the perfect marriage of texture and flavor), I didn't give much thought to this recipe, because what's a brownie without melted chocolate?
Heaven in your mouth, if you must know. A brownie like this leaves you in awe of its unhindered deep chocolatey-ness, makes you wonder where its dense, fudgy texture with its paper-thin crinkly top has been all your life, and makes you vow to never love another brownie again. I may sound ridiculous, but I'll bet that you'll be writing your own love sonnets to these brownies after you try them. The melted chocolate that I thought I loved most about other brownies turned out to be exactly what was coming between me and my brownie nirvana due to the presence of cocoa butter, which can really tamp down all the great qualities of cocoa. I was tempted to serve these with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce, but I just couldn't imagine that those usual bells and whistles would make these showstoppers any more impressive than they already are. Use a good quality cocoa powder for these. Splurge on something other than Nestle and Hershey's (I hate to call them out by name, but they just won't cut it in this case). I recommend cutting them into small squares, because they satisfy even the most voracious chocolate craving after only a couple of bites.
Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies
10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter 1 1/4 cups (280 grams) sugar 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 large eggs, cold 1/2 cup (66 grams) all-purpose flour
1. 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.
2. 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 only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.
3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. 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. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.