Whatever-You’ve-Got Brownies


I will tell you right now that it is a fact–not my affection-clouded opinion, but a completely indisputable truth–that my mother makes the best brownies in the world, ever. I had friends in college who said that their moms made the best brownies, and I would argue with them about it. And then they would try my mom’s brownies and shut up and perhaps cry themselves to sleep.

This, unfortunately, is not my mom’s brownie recipe.

No, the brownies whose recipe I am about to disclose parade on Epicurious.com under the name “Best Cocoa Brownies,” but in my heart and in my stomach they are still not quite Mom’s. But they are pretty damn good anyway.

How did I come to the point of settling for another recipe, you may ask?

Well, Friday morning I woke my jetlagged self up and headed over to yoga class where we executed a series of standing poses (which I can do) and then a series of handstands (which I apparently was not ready for). My elbow gave out underneath me and I landed on my shoulder and head and subsequently found myself in the emergency room (I’m okay).

Several hours later, I was back home on the couch, icing my shoulder and feeling sorry for myself. My friend Erinn offered to come over and keep me company; her boyfriend had recently illegally downloaded Sandra Bullock’s latest flick, and Erinn knew that a mindless rom-com was the ticket to cheering me up.  Pretty soon, our friend Margaret was on her way to join in the pity party.  Of course, to really turn this into an estrogen-fest we had to bake something. Erinn had some things to take care of at home first, Margaret was out to dinner, and I wasn’t exactly moving anywhere, so we had to think of things we could make with what Erinn and I both had at home. Between us, we had butter, cocoa, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt.  And I had a recipe that called for all those things and nothing else. Perfect. Here you have it, the “best” (but not as “best” as Mom’s) cocoa brownies:

“Best” Cocoa Brownies (epicurious.com; originally published in BitterSweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate by Alice Meredith):


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we used good ol’ Hershey’s)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Grease a 8″x 8″ baking pan (or, if you’re like me, go for the next best thing and bust out a 9″ cake pan. Anything goes).

Bring a wide skillet full of water to a simmer and keep it over very low heat–the water should barely be simmering at all. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in the skillet. Stir the contents of the bowl together with a rubber spatula (or, as Erinn insists, a rubber scraper–spatulas are for flipping pancakes) until combined and smooth. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.


Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. Make absolutely sure that the mixture isn’t hot when you do this or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs coated in chocolate, which I find to be a rather unsettling image. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat it for a minute or so with your spatula (scraper) or a spoon. Stir in some walnuts if you like. I personally am a brownie purist and don’t like them to be tainted by anything unless it means adding more chocolate.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes.

I would tell you to let them cool completely before cutting them, but of course, we dug in right away so our brownies never actually turned out to be brownies, but instead were delightfully puddingy mounds of fudge that we ate with ice cream in bowls with spoons.


Tags: , , , , , ,

One Response to “Whatever-You’ve-Got Brownies”

  1. margaret Says:

    I am craving some of these delightfully puddingy mounds of fudge right now and think the only solution is to make these again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: