Monday, April 12, 2010

Cocoa Powder Brownies

I haven't been posting a lot recently, and I know it. Life has gotten in the way, I haven't been baking as often, and when I have, I just plain haven't had the motivation to blog. But I've only been blogging since January and I guess it takes a little while to get into the groove of blogging. But just recently, I joined Daring Bakers! I'm very excited about it. I just registered, and there's a waiting period, so I won't officially become a member until May, so my first recipe with them won't be posted until May 27th. I'm a little saddened by that, and I do hope that I don't miss out on a good recipe this April, but like I said, this is most likely going to rejuvenate my interest in blogging. I might not post anything in between the DB recipes, but I'll do my best. So on to today's recipe.

This recipe came about from a big chocolate craving of mine. I've been craving chocolate, but there's been none in solid form in the house! No chocolate chips, candy, anything. I've had chocolate ice cream, but that didn't have the chocolate pow I was looking for. So I thought about a brownie that used cocoa powder since, like I said, I didn't have any chocolate in solid form. I came across this recipe on Epicurious which had a four fork rating and, for the most part, rave reviews. What's great about this recipe is that it's super quick, so I whipped them up in no time. They were good...really rich and dark and fudgy, maybe even a little too dark and rich for me. So I put a little whipped cream on mine and that helped to cut some of the richness and I liked them better that way.

They're dubbed "Best Cocoa Brownies," and are they? I'm not sure. I think I've only made one other brownie recipe before that had cocoa powder in them and they were super low fat and not very good, actually (which I should have expected). I will say that I don't think this recipe beats out a brownie that has chopped chocolate in it, though. I think I was a little disappointed in these...I felt they were missing something, and I think that something is only achieved when adding chocolate in solid form. But that doesn't mean at all that I didn't like them. All in all, these are really great when a chocolate craving comes about and you only have cocoa powder on hand; simple, quick, and good.

"Best" Cocoa Brownies (from Epicurious)
Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) (I used natural, and like I said, they were already dark, rich, and fudgy...probably will be even darker if you use Dutch-process!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold, large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional (I omitted)
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter (cut into pieces), sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the butter has melted. Stir until the mixture comes together. (The original directions used the double-boiler method, but that just dirties up more things and takes longer. Seriously, microwave is much easier and quicker). Set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
  3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, and stir 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. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner and cut brownies into squares.

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