The name says it all. This is one of his mom's recipes, and no matter how many different brownie recipes I've tried over the years, Michael always asks for these. We're talking real brownies—chewy, fudgy, with that slightly crackly top. Definitely not cake. And yes, they are very yummy. If you want to make a brownie sundae, they are delicious topped with ice cream and Irish Cream.
WARNING: Do not make a full pan of these if you live alone. Invite people over to share them or take them to the office or give some away to your neighbors.
Many brownie recipes call for cocoa powder but do not specify which type to use—Dutch process or natural unsweetened—and it used to leave me in a bit of a dilemma, that is until I found a very clear explanation on the differences between the two types of cocoa written by Stephanie at Joy of Baking, a resource that I turn to on a regular basis. The combination of the baking soda working with the acidic natural unsweetened cocoa powder produces the leavening action. Dutch-process cocoa is chemically non-reactive because it has been treated with an alkali to neutralize the natural acids. If you use the alkalized Dutch-process cocoa here, then there is no leavening action. So save the Dutch-process cocoa for baked goods that require baking powder.
To spice up the brownies, add one of the following to the dry ingredients:
- 1-½ teaspoons espresso powder (or good instant coffee, ground with a mortar & pestle)
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- pinch of cayenne pepper
Michael's Favorite Brownies
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan, lightly coated with cooking spray
- ¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅔ cup melted butter (divided)
- ½ cup boiling water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Optional Mixins (all of one, or half of each)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In the mixing bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda. Add ⅓ cup melted butter and the boiling water and stir on low until the mixture thickens.
- Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining ⅓ cup melter butter. Mix until smooth.
- Add the flour, vanilla, and salt, and mix completely. Stir in nuts or chips, if desired.
- Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan, but watch them carefully after 30 minutes to make sure they don't over bake. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars.