In a previous life, when I was a poly sci student by day and a barista by night, the cafe I worked at used to get giant orders of Sam’s Club brownies. They came uncut and in massive boxes (think a brownie the size of a full baking sheet!) and we were tasked with slicing them into pieces size of my palm so customers could buy individual pieces.
Those brownies were my pre-exam ritual (along with a cuppa oj) and I’ve been trying to make something like them for years. I’ve found that many of the recipes I’ve tried taste more like sugar and butter than they do chocolate; and they’re rather thin. I don’t want a ¼ inch tall brownie, I want double (or triple!) that! So I spent the better part of the summer of 2019 testing brownie recipes and figuring out what worked and what I liked about them. One of the ones I came across which gave me a good jumping off point was Alice Mederich’s cocoa brownies. She says these are special due to the “drama of the crustiness on top and the gooey center”. I liked the sound of that!
I took one major tip from Mederich; that is to cook the butter, sugar and cocoa together; but I streamlined the rest of the methodology. I also recalculated the ingredients and quantities to give me the height, texture and taste I wanted. These are thick (so more goo in the center which is the best part, imho!), and they are rich and chocolatey.
These are on the soft side but the edges are very chewy (classic brownie!) and the centers still have that signature fudginess.
Butter: either american (82% butterfat) or european style (83% and up) will work but the latter, with it’s less water content and higher butterfat, definitely gives a richer flavor.
Sugar: fine granualted sugar. You can swap in some brown sugar for some of the granulated, it’ll just make the brownies a tad softer. Thinking you want to reduce the sugar a bit? I think it would be safe to use 1 3/4 cups or 350g.
Cocoa: It MUST be dutch process cocoa.
Salt: fine sea salt
Vanilla: pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
Eggs: whole large eggs, best if they are at room temperature.
Flour: all purpose flour, protein content shouldn’t matter too much but I’d avoid a high protein like bread flour.
Prepare a metal pan by greasing and laying down a sheet of parchment paper. Use a 9×9 inch square pan, or, for thicker brownies, an 8×8 inch.
The first thing we need to do is heat the melt the butter and then heat the sugar and cocoa with it. There are a few ways to do this: either in a heavy pot (for this method you want to be very careful not to burn the cocoa), over a double boiler (safest way) or in the microwave (if you use intervals and stir often it’s do-able and just as safe).
Start by adding the butter to the pot/bowl and warming it until it melts
Then add the sugar and stir it in
Then sift in the cocoa and stir, cook it until it reaches 140 F or until you see that part of it has thickened and some liquid is separated
Transfer to a heatproof bowl and add the salt and vanilla
Start beating the mixture, you’ll see it’s still separated
With the mixer on, add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate. Once all the eggs are in beat for a couple of minutes until the mix is bubbly and shiny
Add the flour and mix to just combine
Transfer to the prepared pan and bake.
**The brownies are done baking when the center has puffed up.**
Once they are cool, use the parchment paper to lift the brownie out. Once the slab is completely cool, slice.
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