The craving for chocolate hit pretty hard last week, and the timing was perfect as we'd been invited to a dinner party over the weekend and were tasked with bringing something sweet. I decided to try a new riff on a brownie recipe I've been experimenting with over the past few months — I wanted to see if I could make these brownies super decadent and fudgy while relying on 100% whole-grain flour. The verdict? A new go-to brownie and family favorite.
I got the initial idea for these brownies from the wonderful baking book Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. Among many other must-try treats, Lepard has a Rye Hazelnut Brownie recipe in the book that is made with 100% rye flour. I took his flavor combination as inspiration and applied it to the recipe I've been working on at home. My idea was to use much less flour (to help with the fudginess), add in a good hit of vanilla, use less sugar, and then add more chocolate and butter. The result is half Dan Lepard and half Megan Gordon, and I'd say they're pretty darn near close to perfect.
Now before diving into the recipe, I guess it's a good time to come clean that I'm a bit of a brownie snob. I like mine super fudgy and dense, packed with a good deal of dark chocolate and nuts. These fit the bill — a small square goes a long way. They're wonderful with a little milk or afternoon tea (or hey, morning coffee). I know not everyone likes their brownies with nuts, so certainly just omit them here if it's not your thing (or add a different kind of nut, like walnuts, if you'd prefer them over hazelnuts).
These brownies, you may notice, have a good bit of height thanks to beating air into the sugar and eggs during mixing. Most taller brownies tend towards the cakey side of things, but these remain nice and dense while still making an impressive showing in stature. Some fresh-brewed coffee compliments the flavor of the dark chocolate beautifully and the double whammy addition of 60% chocolate and cocoa powder makes for one decadent brownie indeed.
Let's quickly chat about flour since I do think the rye flour adds a great deal in flavor (and whole-grain nutrition, too). This is a great whole-grain flour to pair with chocolate — its earthy flavor can sometimes be a tough sell all on its own (like in a sugar cookie, for example), but it shines when paired with flavor-forward chocolate, nuts, and fruits. I used rye flour in the Triple Chocolate Pepper Thumbprint cookies I made last December on The Kitchn and I use it quite a bit on my own blog, A Sweet Spoonful. Rye flour is relatively easy to find these days. Bob's Red Mill sells it as does Hodgson Mills. Whole Foods also usually carries it in their bulk bins. If you have a hard time finding it, though, you can swap in all-purpose, spelt, or another favorite flour instead.
I found the shelf life of these brownies to be pretty impressive. While the majority of them didn't last long at our dinner party, I think the few we took home with us were even better the second day, and were just fine into the fourth day. To dress them up for a dinner party, a little powdered sugar sifted on top does the trick. I really hope you love them as much as I did.
Fudgy Hazelnut Rye Brownies
Makes 12 squares
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped (mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet)
1 cup (130 grams) rye flour
1/4 cup (25 grams) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup (215 grams) natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee (or espresso)
1 cup (125 grams) toasted and skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 8- to 10-inch square pan and set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), beat the eggs with the sugar until pale in color and thicker in texture, about 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and coffee. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Then fold in the melted chocolate and hazelnuts.
Scrape the brownie batter out into the prepared baking dish. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top becomes a bit cracked and — with any luck — slightly shiny. The center of the pan of brownies should still be a touch jiggly — they firm up a good bit as they cool. Let cool completely before slicing.
If covered and stored at room temperature, these brownies should keep for 3 to 4 days.
If you don't have rye flour at home, feel free to use spelt flour or all-purpose flour instead.