A glossy, paper-thin crust is a sure sign of brownies loaded with cocoa butter, and a solid indication that their flavor will shine through as well. To that end, these brownies are made with dark chocolate and high-fat Dutch cocoa, a one-two punch that gives them a powerful chocolate flavor, one that's underscored by the toasty richness of brown butter.
Adapted from BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts with permission from W. W. Norton.
Why It Works
- Brown butter adds a nutty richness that deepens the chocolate flavor.
- Thickly foamed eggs lighten the batter, for brownies that are fudgey but not overly dense.
- Cocoa powder reduces the need for flour, making the brownies especially flavorful and tender.
- The cocoa butter in dark chocolate gives the brownies a lingering richness.
- An aluminum pan helps the brownies bake quickly and evenly, without the extended timeline associated with baking in glass, or the risks of overbaking in nonstick pan.
- Yield:Makes twenty-four 2 1/2-inch squares
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:2 hours
- 12 ounces unsalted butter (about 3 sticks; 340g)
- 6 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate (about 1 cup; 170g), about 72%
- 16 ounces white sugar (about 2 1/4 cups; 450g)
- 2 ounces light brown sugar (about 1/4 cup, packed; 55g)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 6 large eggs, straight from the fridge (about 10 1/2 ounces; 295g)
- 1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d’Oro (optional)
- 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g), such as Gold Medal
- 4 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder (about 1 1/3 cups, spooned; 115g), such as Cocoa Barry Extra Brute
Getting Ready: Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9- by 13- by 2-inch anodized aluminum baking pan with foil to cover the bottom and long sides of the pan (it's all right to leave the short sides exposed). If you like, grease lightly with pan spray.
In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When completely melted, increase to medium and simmer, stirring with a heat resistant spatula while the butter hisses and pops. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping up any brown bits that form along the pan, until the butter is golden yellow and perfectly silent. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate; it will seem quite thin.
Making the Batter: Combine white sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and instant espresso (if using) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high until extremely thick and fluffy, about 8 minutes. (The whipping time can vary significantly depending on bowl size, batter temperature, and mixer wattage, so use the visual cues as your primary guide.)
Meanwhile, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. When the foamed eggs are fluffy and thick, reduce speed to low and pour in the warm chocolate-butter. Once incorporated, add the cocoa-flour all at once and continue mixing until roughly combined. Finish with a flexible spatula, scraping and folding to ensure the batter is well mixed from the bottom up.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the brownies are glossy and just barely firm, about 30 minutes or to an internal temperature of 205°F (take care that the probe is inserted at a sharp angle to avoid touching the bottom of the pan). The timing of this recipe is based on anodized aluminum, and will vary significantly with glass, ceramic, or non-stick pans, materials that will also affect the brownie's consistency.
Cool the brownies to room temperature to allow their crumb to set before slicing. Slide a butter knife between the brownies and the short ends of the pan; gently tug on the foil, then lift to remove the brownies from the pan. Cut into twenty four 2 1/2-inch squares, and store in an airtight container with a sheet of wax paper between each layer, about 1 week at room temperature.