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!
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.