I may not share my secrets often, but when I do, it's a good one!!
Who doesn't love a rich, dark, chocolatey Brownie? Every family has a favourite recipe. There are probably as many versions of Brownie recipes as there are bakers who make them.
Ever since Fannie Farmer published a recipe for the first "Brownie" in 1896, home bakers and professionals alike have been tweaking their recipes to get just the right taste and texture. And there are so many additions and toppings that work with Brownies...walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, frosting, a dusting of icing sugar...I have even added a dash or two of chili spice to my bakes.
Ms. Farmer's original Brownie recipe did not actually contain chocolate, it was really more of a molasses cake. The first recipe for a modern style Brownie, with chocolate, was published in New Hampshire in 1904 in a book called Home Cookery. In the 1906 edition of Fanny Farmer's Book, chocolate was added to her recipe. And so began the never ending tweaking of the classic Brownie recipe!
Enough chocolate Brownie history! What is the secret?
It's all in the cocoa powder.
Some recipes call for squares of Baker's chocolate, or cocoa powder...or both. The Brownie I make most often is made only with cocoa powder. I use Cacao Barry "Extra Brute" cocoa powder with 22/24% fat. It is an alkalized cocoa powder with intense cocoa taste and a beautiful amber colour (alkalized cocoa powder is also known as European or Dutch style and usually has a less acidic taste than non-alkalized). Natural cocoa powder (or non alkalized) just wont give you the same deep dark cocoa flavour you want in your Brownie. (See my Chocolatier Pro Tip below about using cocoa powder substitutions.)
And that's my secret!
DARK CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Set oven to 350 degrees F.
Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, fork whisk
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
1/2 cup water
In a large bowl, whisk together
1 cup white flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup Cacao Barry Extra Brut cocoa powder (or "Dutched" cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped nuts of choice (optional)
Combine the small bowl of wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients.
Mix well until incorporated but dont over mix.
Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 until the centre is set and no longer "jiggles" for fudgy brownies...for cakier brownies, add 3-5 minutes and bake until centre springs back when lightly touched.
Cool completely in the pan (45-60 minutes)
Cut into 16 squares.
Leave them naked, or top with a dusting of icing sugar or your favourite frosting.
Look at the rich dark colour of the cocoa powder in the picture above! This is the secret to a rich dark chocolate brownie. In this bake, I wanted more of a cake texture so I have baked until the centre sprung back when gently touched. My finished brownies have no additions like chocolate chips or nuts but I have done a dusted icing sugar top, a pumpkin spiced frosting and a "naked" brownie.
Chocolatier's Pro Tip: It is not always possible to substitute natural cocoa powder (non alkalized) for Dutched (alkalized) cocoa powder in every recipe. Baking soda doesn't react to alkalized cocoa powder and baking powder wont react with non alkalized cocoa powder. The result will be a very flat, dense bake. If your recipe doesn't state which cocoa powder to use and baking soda is listed as the levener, use natural cocoa powder (non alkalized) and vise versa, baking powder is listed, it's dutch processed (alkalized) cocoa powder you need.
Lori Eisenberger, Owner/Chocolatier