Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

Do you ever just NEED to have a tray of brownies?  Don’t deny it… you’ve felt this way.  Sometimes, only a fudgy, chocolatey treat will silence the craving.  And there’s nothing like homemade.  But here’s the rub: I cannot buy bars of chocolate, bring them into my house, and expect them to wait around in the pantry until I get a craving for brownies.  They’ve usually “disappeared” after only a few days.  So something that could, in fact, be a pantry staple, rarely is.  This is where a good recipe for cocoa brownies comes in handy.  Because cocoa, while delicious and chocolatey, is never really in danger of being snatched up from its hiding place in the pantry and eaten on its own.

Now, I’ve made brownies with cocoa before.  And they’re good- good enough to fill the chocolate craving, anyway.  But not GREAT.  And when you’re eating a lot of brownies, which I invariably do, I don’t want to waste all those calories (oh so many calories) on good brownies.  I want excellence.  Lucky for me I recently stumbled on this recipe for brownies that are made with cocoa, but whose flavor rivals those made with the most expensive, luxurious $10 bars of Vahlrona chocolate.  It’s a cocoa miracle!

The answer, of course, is butter.  It so often is.  But not just butter, browned butter. Sweet, nutty, irresistible browned butter.  Throw some walnuts into the mix and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever made brownies any other way.  The result is an incredibly rich, fudgy brownie, with those crispy-chewy edges that I go crazy over.  The taste is subtle, starting with deep chocolate flavor before melting into that nutty sweetness that comes from the browned butter, compounded by that gorgeous crunch of the walnuts.
Is your mouth watering yet?  Well good news- these are also incredibly easy and you probably have everything you need to make them in your pantry and fridge.  Oh, and you don’t even need a bowl, you only use one pot, from start to finish, meaning less dishes and more brownie-eating.  Which is just another reason that these are my new favorite brownies.  
So, for those of you who are curious as to why I hadn’t been around much lately, and now that I’m back, am eating things like this for three meals a day, and all of a sudden need brownies-on-demand, I guess it’s high time for a little “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation” post.  I’ll give you a hint… it’s little, it’s making me big, and it makes me all teary-eyed and sentimental several times a day. And no, it’s not these brownies (although that is a pretty astute description of these brownies, too- go figure).  You guessed it… hubby and I are expecting a little one in a few months.  And now that the dreaded morning sickness is over, I’m back to cooking (and eating… oh, the eating) in full force!  So I’ll be around more now.  And don’t worry, I’ll try to include recipes for things that don’t involve massive amounts of cheese, butter, or chocolate, for those of you who are still eating like normal people. 🙂

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

Use good quality cocoa powder you have; it’ll make a difference here.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, chilled

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan, and cut into bars. You should be able to get 16 2-inch brownies from the pan.  



Filed under Baking, Chocolate, Dessert

4 responses to “Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

  1. Molly

    I am drooling…. yumm… can you make these for me sometime?

    (I’d say “save me one” but I sense these are the type of brownies that won’t be around very long. Haha) 🙂 🙂

  2. Thanks for another mouth-watering recipe, and congrats on your big news!!

  3. clueless cook

    Congrats! If you are having any more trouble with morning sickness, ginger is a natural remedy. I lived on ginger rice cakes the first few months!!! I wonder, ginger in chocolate brownies, hmmmmm…

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