Where your black stretchy pants at?! BECAUSE I GOT A GO-TO BROWNIE RECIPE, AND NOW YOU GET TO HAVE IT TOO (gotta sing that last sentence out loud because these are that good, if I do say so myself).
I dedicate this pan of brownies, or as they would say on The Great British Baking Show, this “tray bake,” to my high-waisted black Zellas, which are a touch too snug and borderline indecent at the moment.
I also dedicate them to my people, a.k.a. chocoholics everywhere. Oh, you know who you are. You read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when you were a kid, and when Augustus Gloop fell into the chocolate river, you secretly wished that would happen to you someday!
It took several attempts to get these brownies to Go-To Brownie status, as the former scientist in me kept tweaking and refining, and now I’m 99.9% sure I’m there (gotta keep some wiggle room for improvement). These are the best damn brownies I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten many, many, many brownies.
They’re dense, chocolaty and have a subtle caramel undercurrent from the brown sugar, and while they’re sweet, they aren’t overly sugary. They also have toasted chopped walnuts for next-level texture, but you can totally leave them out if walnuts aren’t your thing. Feel free to customize this recipe to suit your needs and taste, although I do think there are a few non-negotiables…
- Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. In the gold bag. Out of all the different brands/levels of chocolatey-ness I tried on the way to brownie Valhalla, these got the best reaction from my taste testers, a.k.a. me, El Hub, my family and my neighbors, who I believe love me and hate me for randomly popping in over the last few months with huge plates of brownies.
- Instant coffee. There’s about a tablespoon in the recipe. Don’t worry if you don’t like coffee because you’re not going to be able to taste it. It brings out the richness of the chocolate. Sensitive to caffeine? Use decaf.
- Toasted walnuts. Shout-out to all my friends here on MBB who said that toasting them would be life-changing, because it is! It’s an extra step, but you’re gonna have the oven on anyway, so you might as well.
- A hand mixer or mixing stand like a KitchenAid. Technically, you can do this whole recipe from start to finish with a single bowl and a whisk, and I tried that once, but it took forever and I made a huge mess, so I’m all about the KitchenAid.
Oh, and as delicious as these are when they first come out of the oven, they’re even better if you have enough patience to let them set overnight in the fridge. It just takes them to the next level, but if you can’t wait until then AND YOU HAVE TO SHOVE THEM INTO YOUR MOUTH LIKE RIGHT NOW, I totally get it.
Now, onto the recipe! — and I have to give props to Mel over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, by the way, because my go-to recipe is based on hers. Her recipes… I love them. They’re simple, she uses ingredients you can find at any grocery store, and they’re delicious. If you like to cook or bake, you’ve gotta start following her because you’ll learn a lot.
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 8 ounces Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbs instant coffee
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
(This makes about 25 single-serving brownie squares.)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prep a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. I use Reynolds Kitchens SmartGrid because the lines make it easy for me to see where to cut the paper down once it’s in the pan. I tear off a large sheet, put it into the pan, then I weigh down the corners with mugs. I cut through the corners and around the edges to trim the paper down, and then I leave the mugs in there while I’m working on the batter, because the mugs shape the paper to the pan, so when I pour the batter in at the end, I’m don’t have to fight to weigh the paper down.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, and spread out your chopped nuts. Toast them in the oven anywhere between 3-6 minutes. You’ll want to keep a close eye on them; my oven doesn’t get as hot as other ovens do, so it takes about 4-6 minutes in mine. You’ll know they’re done when they’ve turned a deep brown and you can see a little bit of oil released on the bottom of the foil. Also…you can just taste them. LOL! They’ll taste nuttier and more potent, but not more bitter, than your standard raw chopped walnuts. Set them aside to cool.
- Place two sticks of butter and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave them together in 1-minute increments on high until you can mix the two together smoothly. You don’t want to overheat this, though, so keep an eye on the bowl as it’s heating up.
- Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar to the warm chocolate mixture, mix, and then let cool for about 5 minutes. After it’s cool, I usually transfer the melted chocolate and butter to my KitchenAid bowl to make everything easier.
- Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Mix in one egg at a time until you get through all five eggs. You want the batter at this point to appear glossy and smooth.
- Add cocoa powder, salt and instant coffee, and then mix. If you’re using a KitchenAid, you’ll want to fold everything in a few times before turning on the mixer, because if you just dump the cocoa powder directly on top of the batter and turn the mixer on, the cocoa powder will end up ALL OVER THE FRICKIN’ PLACE. On your hair, in your nostrils, on your counters and even on the cat begging at your ankles for food. You have been warned.
- Fold in the flour and nuts with a spatula, and try not to over mix. You want the flour to just disappear into the batter.
- Remove the mugs from the metal pan, and pour and spread the batter into the pan with a spatula until it’s mostly even, and then bake between 25-40 minutes… The time really depends on your oven. Because mine doesn’t get super hot, I leave them in for about 40. You’ll know they’re done when you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out with sticky, moist crumbs (as opposed to it coming out covered in liquid brownie goop).
- Let them sit at room temperature before you cut into ’em (otherwise, your edges will be crumbly). If you can wait, let them chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Or overnight. Then lift the brownies out of the pan, and cut them into squares. For super clean edges, I use a dough cutter; a pizza cutter works, too! Oh, and so does an old-fashioned sharp knife.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,