It’s a date, Alyna -- we WILL make our way to the chocolate lab! And I will continue your chocolate pairing theme with some brownies.
I am decidedly a brownie purist, and the line dividing brownie batter additions into the acceptable and unacceptable is blurred and admittedly arbitrary. Walnuts, espresso, cinnamon or mint are all are lovely additions. “Or” because a brownie really shouldn’t have that many moving parts. I also love swirled brownies, like cheesecake, pumpkin, or peanut butter. Black beans, entire Oreos backed into the brownie, caramel sauce drizzled on top (how am I supposed to eat this without making a mess??): the party’s over, grab your coats and let me show you guys the way out. Also, nothing is more suspicious than a brownie topped with frosting. What’s going on in there? The frosted brownie always has something to hide.
This browned butter cocoa brownie recipe from Bon Appétit is my absolute favorite. It’s a one bowl deal, there is no tempering of chocolate/double broiler business involved, so it’s easy and quick, and really doesn’t call for much more effort than making boxed brownies. I actually prefer eating brownies frozen because for some reason they taste much more chocolately that way, and remind me of the soft, super dark chocolate wafers that seem to be the exclusive domain of ice cream sandwiches. These brownies are perfect for freezing; because they are so fudgy, they don’t freeze very hard so you can enjoy them out of the freezer immediately.
Browned Butter Cocoa Brownies
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, cold
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter 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, and immediately add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until well-combined.
Let mixture cool for 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Then add eggs to the hot mixture one at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Then beat batter vigorously for 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 parchment paper overhang, lift brownies from pan and cut into 9 or 16 pieces. Store airtight at room temperature or store in freezer.