living the sweet life

Chewy Brownies

This post is coming to you from the comfort of my couch, while I eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream with salted caramel sauce and drink a large glass of white wine.

In case you were wondering, it’s a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday night while watching the movie Admission with my friend from home who’s visiting. If you’re confused, I wrote this post last night to post this morning aka Wednesday.

Now that that confusion is out of the way, the only thing to make this night better would be if I had any of these brownies leftover. Instead, I brought them all into work the other day (after eating 2 myself) and they were gone in 5 minutes. I’ve brought homemade brownies before but these were the brownies that had my managers asking for the recipe.

For Christmas, my dad got me a few new cookbooks, all by America’s Test Kitchen. Cook’s Illustrated, Baking Illustrated, and Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. Together they easily weigh at least 13 pounds and he had to ship them out to me in California because there was no way they were fitting in my little carry on bag.

The cookbooks are amazing. For each recipe, they go through the steps that they took to make and get to the final recipe. It’s really a cool thing to read how certain changes and additions (extra egg yolk, all-purpose vs cake flour, etc) affected the final product.

When I got all three books, I didn’t know where to start. There are literally thousands of recipes. Brownies, cake, cookies, tarts, pies, cobblers. Not to mention all the real food recipes in the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. But then… reading through the cookbooks, I realized that there was a brownie recipe for homemade from scratch brownies that taste just like the box mix kind but better. I didn’t think that was possible. Brownies are the one thing that this homemade-from-scratch snob likes better from a box mix. I never thought I could find a homemade recipe that had the same taste, texture and indescribable quality that the box mix brownies have.

But boy was I wrong. These brownies are delicious. They are chewy, filled with chocolate, and get that delicious crackly top and crisp edges. They weren’t complicated to make and are so worth the wait while they cool. I’m literally dreaming about the next time I make these. Which might very well be before Ellen leaves to go back to NJ.

Chewy Brownies

makes about 24 2-inch squares (or one 9×13 pan)

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water (bring 1 1/2 cups to a boil and then measure out needed amount)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs + 2 yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces dark chocolate, cut into small chunks

Set oven rack to second to lowest position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan with a foil sling. Cut two pieces of foil so that they are longer than the pan and so that one is 9 inches wide and one 13 inches wide. Create a sling, making sure the foil is pressed into the corners and that there is overhang on the sides. Grease liberally and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Add in unsweetened chocolate and whisk until melted. Add in vegetable oil and melted butter, whisking until smooth. Add in eggs and egg yolks and mix. Stir in vanilla. Add sugar and whisk until smooth. Using a spatula, add in flour-salt mixture, folding batter until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Use a spatula to spread batter so that it’s spread out evenly. Transfer to oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Brownies are done when a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack and let cool for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan and let cool completely, another hour or so. Cut brownies until 2 inch squares and store in an airtight container.

[source: recipe from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book]


1. I used regular cocoa powder, though the original recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa.

2. I used 72% cocoa chocolate chunks that I cut from the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar (pictured here on amazon, but only about $4-5 in store. I don’t know who in their right mind would spend $15 on that..)

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