I have been craving sugar with abandon since Hurricane Sandy. When I walk into Duane Reade for practical items like shampoo and a tooth brush, I find myself drawn to the discounted Halloween candy aisle where I end up loading my cart with bags and bags of processed sugar for a pittance. It really amazes me that you can currently buy a bag of fun size Twix for 75 cents. I like to think my sugar binge is because of lack of sleep and a lower level of energy since this whole hurricane thing occurred and I hope that once things return to normal I will return to my normal levels of sugar. When I have an intense sugar/chocolate craving (and when I have a kitchen at my disposal), these brownies are the first thing I make to curb my craving. They are the kind of rich and intense brownie that dreams are made of. They are a dark and fudgey affair - the kind of brownie that screams for a large glass of milk. I adore adding dried sour cherries and toasted walnuts to the batter to give a bit of crunch and a tangy bite but trust me those add in's aren't required, they are pretty perfect without any extras.
Best Cocoa Brownies
Recipe adapted (barely) from Smitten Kitchen
These are my favorite brownie recipe thus far (the search is never over!). They are quick and easy to make and they come out well every single time. I highly recommend the really good cocoa powder like Valrhona, it makes all the difference here.
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)
1/2 cup dried cherries (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the over and preheat to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. Place in the microwave for 30 second intervals and then stir every 30 seconds (watch carefully as you don't want to burn it!). Continue to microwave for intervals until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. (You can also do this with a double boiler on your stove but the microwave is far easier). Cool the mixture down until it's warm and not hot.
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, shinny, and well blended, add the flour until you can not see it anymore, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes withe the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts and cherries, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, about 25 - 30 minutes. Let cool completely on rack. (You can place in the fridge to cool so you can cut clean lines).
Life the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.