Kitchn Love Letters

The (Nearly Perfect) Brownie Recipe I Keep Coming Back To

published Feb 9, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. And we decided to start sharing some of our absolute favorites with you. Here’s a peek into what we’re cooking and eating in our own kitchens.

People often describe themselves as being a cake person or a pie person. Well, I’m a brownie person (with cake as a close second). And an equal-opportunity brownie person, at that. I love them whether they’re made from scratch or come from a box. But the thing I look for most in brownies is thickness — and big, bold chocolate flavor.

Because of the rich-looking centers and crackly top, I had my eye on these brownies from the second they were first published on our site back in 2017. It was also hard not to be intrigued by the short, budget-friendly ingredient list. Although the lack of actual chocolate anywhere in the recipe threw me off — could they possibly have the intense chocolate flavor I craved and be as impossibly delicious as they looked? The answer is yes and yes. And now it’s my go-to brownie recipe and the only one I make.

A Seriously Chocolate-y Brownie That’s Chewy and Fudgy

The first (and most important) thing you should know about these brownies is that they expertly straddle the line between fudgy and chewy. They’re dense and supremely chocolate-y, but without being so rich that you can’t possibly have a second. Consider them the goldilocks of the brownie world. And that’s exactly what keeps me coming back to them again and again. They’re some of the most delicious and easiest brownies I’ve ever baked or tasted.

The beauty of these brownies is also that they require next to no planning. An ideal quality for spontaneous bakers like myself, who decide after dinner that they need a brownie asap. And since the brownies don’t require chocolate (more on this below!), it’s almost guaranteed that I always have the necessary ingredients on hand in my pantry.

Despite the lack of actual chocolate in these brownies, what makes them so insanely chocolatey is the cocoa powder, and blooming it in warm oil at the beginning of the process. This simple but hugely important step gives this baking staple the chance to unleash its ultra-rich, intense flavor.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

For As Much As I Love Them, The Recipe Isn’t Perfect

While the ingredient list is short and sweet, the trade-off is that you will generate quite a few dirty dishes (three bowls, a couple of whisks, beaters from an electric mixer, and measuring cups, to be exact). To be honest, I’d normally skip a recipe for this very reason. Thankfully I didn’t notice it before embarking on this recipe the first time. And as someone who truly dislikes washing dishes, you should know that these fudgy squares are more than worth every single dirty dish.

The recipe also has you start by heating the oil in the microwave in order to bloom the cocoa powder. If, like me, you don’t have a microwave, don’t worry — it’ll take a little longer, but you can heat the oil in a small skillet on the stovetop and achieve the same result.

Don’t have the 9×9-inch baking pan that’s called for in the recipe? Me either, and the good news is that an 8×8-inch pan works just fine (alternatively, if you’re baking for a crowd, a half sheet pan is just right for a double batch of brownies). You’ll get even thicker brownies, and simply need to add a few extra minutes of bake time.

You know it’s true love when you’re willing to overlook imperfections. That’s where I stand with these brownies. The recipe has some quirks and less-than-ideal requirements, but the result is so good I have no problem with letting them slide.

Get the recipe: Pantry Cocoa Brownies