Today’s recipe is anything but fussy. These fudgy brownies are the kinds of treats I make late at night, when a brownie craving typically hits. They’re made with basic ingredients, which, if you like to bake, you probably already have at home, and they take 10 minutes to prepare. The hardest thing is to wait for them to come out of the oven, really!
Brownies are one of my favorite desserts, so I’ve made countless batches of them over the years. My love for brownies is deep and wide: : I’ll make and eat all variations, blonde or dark, in all shapes or forms, from fancy layered squares to caffeine-spiked, ganache-slathered ones. I’m even known for gifting them in a jar! But frankly, when I dream of a brownie, I usually long for the simple, basic, textbook variety.
So what makes a textbook brownie? Three things:
- It needs to have a thick, rich, fudgy interior with a deep chocolate flavor.
- It has to feature crunchy nuts, for texture, and chocolate chunks that turn deliciously gooey when you reheat a square right before eating.
- It must have that paper-thin, shiny, crackly top*.
My Textbook Fudgy Brownies check all the boxes. And the recipe makes a big batch too, so it’s great to satisfy tonight’s craving, and tomorrow’s, and next week’s. Just cut the brownies into squares, freeze them in an airtight container, and they’ll be there when you yearn for them.
Baker’s notes, for the brownie nerd in you:
- What makes a good brownie is, first and foremost, the quality of the chocolate you use. Keep top-quality dark cocoa powder (I like Valrhona’s) and dark chocolate chips at home, and you’ll always be 30 minutes away from excellent brownies.
- The fudgy interior of the brownie is due to two crucial steps:
- Beating the eggs and sugar together. The first step when making brownies is to beat the eggs and sugar together, but don’t you just give it a whip or two: the mixture should become airy and pale, and inflate to several times its size. Aerating the eggs and sugar this way creates the creamy and fudgy interior that makes the dreams of every brownie lover a reality.
- Baking the brownies. There’s nothing more disappointing than an overcooked brownie—which, really, is just a square of chocolate cake. Without icing. Doubly disappointing! You’ve probably read this again and again: don’t overcook the brownies! What it means is that you should start checking for doneness before you think you should check for doneness. If the baking time is indicated at 25 minutes, start peeking at 16 to 18 minutes. Ovens behave differently, and you may not be using the exact pan size required by the recipe. You can check doneness two ways (if possible, do both tests while the brownies are still in the oven): first, lightly press the center of the brownies. If the batter is still super soft, keep baking. If you can feel it setting, start testing using a toothpick: insert the toothpick in the center of the pan. If the toothpick comes out with wet batter on it, keep baking. If it comes out moist with a few crumbs attached, the brownies are ready. It’s a fine line, and a few minutes can be the difference between underdone and overdone. Don’t worry, though—you only need to make the recipe once to know exactly how long you should bake the brownies using your own equipment. Next time—because there will be many next times, believe me—you can bake them with your eyes closed (but the timer on).
- Ever wondered what makes the brownies’ signature crackly, shiny top? According to Serious Eats, “[it] is achieved by whisking the sugar into the eggs long enough for the sugar to start to dissolve. When that happens, the dissolved sugar rises to the surface of the brownie as it bakes, creating a shiny, shattery-crisp surface.” So carefully beating the eggs and sugar together not only gives you the wonderful chewy texture, but also the delightful crispy surface. Rewarding, don’t you think?
- Consider sprinkling the nuts over the brownies instead of folding them into the batter. Most recipes instruct to fold the nuts into the batter as the last step, but I don’t like to risk the nuts not distributing evenly into the treats (yes, I’m a nerd like that). I prefer sprinkling them over the batter once it’s in the baking pan. You can control exactly where the nuts fall, and they get a nice toast while baking, too, saving you the extra step of toasting the nuts before making the brownies.I also like to sprinkle the extra dose of chocolate chips that way too: the nuts and chocolate together create an appealing crust you’ll have a hard time resisting.
- Take your brownies with a grain of salt. Sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel or flaky sea salt all over the brownies before baking. It may change your life.
Finally: Be patient. You may want to dig in right when the brownies come out of the oven, but brownies are not only easier to cut, but also at their very best flavor- and texture-wise once cooled to room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by setting the pan over a rack in a well-ventilated corner of your kitchen, or even by refrigerating them right after baking. Have a coffee or a glass of wine while you wait—your patience will be rewarded, I promise.
Makes about 20 brownies.
10 minPrep Time
25 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
Preheat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch [23 x 33 cm] baking pan with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside ½ cup [125 ml] of the chocolate chips, then add the remaining chocolate chips to the melted butter. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool while you go on to the next steps.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Break the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or into a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), and beat on low speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale and thick. Turn the speed back down to low and gradually add the reserved melted butter and chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour and cocoa mixture into the batter and mix just until combined.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out looking moist, with a few wet crumbs attached to it. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely to room temperature before cutting. Alternatively, place the baking pan in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
Serve the brownies at room temperature, or zapped in the microwave for a few seconds if they were refrigerated. These brownies are absolutely decadent served warm, topped with Sicilian-Style Vanilla Bean Gelato.
The brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze the brownies, in an airtight container, for up to two months.
Willing to take a gamble as to the distribution of the nuts and chocolate chips in your brownies? Mix them into the batter before transferring the it into the prepared baking pan. You can also, of course, make these brownies nut-free.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Eleni Gianopulos.