Filed under: Bars / Brownies & Blondies
March 2, 2020

Cocoa Brownies

Dutch process cocoa and a unique preparation method make these the kind of brownies you want to take to any and every occasion.

5 from 32 votes
Yield: 16
Jump to recipe
thick cocoa brownies


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!

Recipe development notes

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.


Recipe Ingredients

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.

How to make Cocoa Brownies

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.

Recipe for Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa powder brownies made with bloomed cocoa for a deeply chocolaty flavor.
thick cocoa brownies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 16
5 from 32 votes


  • 1 cup unsalted butter chopped into small cube (226g)s
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 400g
  • 1 cup dutch process cocoa 100g
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • cup all purpose flour 70g


  • Preheat oven to 335.
  • Line a 9×9″ or 8×8’ square pan with a parchment paper overhang (two overlaying sheets so the pan is completely covered).
  • Over a double boiler or in a pot set over low heat, melt the butter. When it has fully melted, add the the sugar and cocoa.
  • Stir and continue to cook until the mixture is smooth and registers 140 F. You’ll notice that at this temperature the liquid starts to separate a bit.
  • Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Let it cool slightly, until it is warm to touch, so it doesn’t cook the eggs in the next steps.
  • Stir in the salt and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs and beat with a hand mixer until the mixture is just smooth and silky (about 20 seconds). You can also do this with a whisk.
  • Add the flour and mix to just combine, careful not to overmix.
  • Pour into baking pan and bake until the center has puffed up and/or a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with some wet crumbs, but is not overly gooey, about 40-45 minutes depending on the size of your pan(less if you're using a 9x9, more if using an 8x8).
  • Allow to cool in the pan and then use the parchment sling to lift it out.
  • Slice into 1 inch squares.


I have another version of these albeit with a mix of cocoa and dark chocolate. The bits of dark chocolate become a flakey, shiny top!
Update: 4/28/20: I've had a few bakers say the 40 minutes wasn't enough bake time so I'm giving a range of 40-50 now. Pan material (glass, metal, ceramic) can lead to variations in temperature and ovens can run cool or hot (mine the latter) so bake time can vary. A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center will not come out clean but should still have some 'goo' on it without being runny. As the brownies cool, the middle will set but still be quite soft in the center.

Did you make this recipe?

Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam



Rate + Review

What do you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Reviews

  1. So disappointed! 40 minutes was way too long and my brownies are so overbaked, they are inedible except the center. What a waste.

    • I’m sorry to hear it Taryn =( Brownie doneness can be tricky to figure out. I added some tips about how to tell doneness with a toothpick, visual cues are always better than time given in a recipe as there are lots of factors that can contribute to the change in temperature (pan material, how accurate the oven is, etc).

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe, and yes, on my oven the cook time was a bit longer. I was glad to have read and prepared for that part. Gooey and perfect. I’m one who likes sweet brownies so I did add a bit of sugar. Thank you so much for the recipe!❤

  3. 5 stars
    These are SO good! They are very thick and fudgy, and they stay moist for days! The texture is perfect! I sprinkled turbinado sugar on them prior to baking, and that really elevated it as well. I think they are the best cold, but they are delicious room temperature as well. In addition, they make THE BEST brownie pops EVER!

  4. 5 stars
    My favorite brownie recipe! I come back to it over and over again, so simple, delicious, and all ingredients I have on hand. Sometimes I add a dash of almond extract – takes it up even another notch!

  5. 5 stars
    Delicious. I lined my 8×8 with graham crackers and topped it with your brown sugar and honey chocolate swirled marshmallow and it’s amazing. And a lot.

  6. I live in high altitude, and I was wondering what you should do for high altitude with the recipe? Also, what is an estimate amount of time for cooling? Thank you, the Browne’s taste super yummy in my yummer. YUMMERY!

  7. 5 stars
    Fantastic every time! I love the simplicity and rich chocolate flavor, plus the salt is perfect. Thank you for a great recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    I’m smiling when I read the comments related to having to bake the brownies for longer than 40 minutes. With my oven, next time I’ll bake them for 37 or 38 minutes so they are a smidge more moist. These brownies were delicious – not too sweet and a great texture! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    I’ve searched my whole life for the perfect brownie recipe and this is it. I gladly used 4 eggs for this recipe repeatedly during the early 2020 egg shortages – these brownies are that good. I use a metal pan. I had timing issues when I tried baking them in a glass dish. It also probably doesn’t come up for many people, but one time I ran out of regular granulated sugar and tried to sub in caster sugar (because not making the brownies right then wasn’t an option once they were on my mind ?) very unsuccessfully. Stick to the ingredients listed and follow Sam’s thorough instructions and you’ll have the best brownies.

  10. 5 stars
    One of the best brownie recipes to have in your back pocket. You don’t even need chocolate bar for it! Also can be used as a base recipe for other dishes. My coworkers loved it too! Sam’s recipes are super well-guided and I trust any recipe that she has posted to come out well.

  11. The cook time didn’t work for me. I lined an 8×8 pan and baked them at 335 degrees. I ended up pulling them out at 65 minutes even though the center still wasn’t set. After they cooled they completely sank in the center. Is 335 degrees correct?

    • Hi Tony, it is but a few things can pro-long the bake time: what kind of material the pan is made of; anything that’s not a light metal pan will take longer; or if the oven temperature is off (even if the thermometer gives you a correct temp it’s not always the case). The 8×8 pan for these is a little tricky because it’s such a thick layer.

  12. 5 stars
    Made these today for a friend at their house. Didn’t have unsweetened chocolate so I looked for a recipe with cocoa powder. Used Hershey’s Special Dark 100% and baked in a metal pan with parchment. The oven I used runs hot so they were done in 35mns and if I hadn’t taken them out they would have overcooked. But, they were really good. A perfect in-between of fudgy and cakey consistency and texture.

  13. 5 stars
    Put this recipe in your medicine cabinet! These are the secret antidote to PMS and menopause. IYKYK!

  14. 5 stars
    I made these yesterday thinking that they would be a nice compliment to roasted marshmallows. They were absolutely delicious by themselves and their size made them easy to cut in half to sandwich the roasted marshmallow. Thanks for a great recipe!

  15. 5 stars
    These are excellent! I’ve made them a couple of times now and they always work well. I didn’t use a thermometer so just gently stirred the stovetop mixture for 5 minutes (once the butter was melted), it seemed to be separating slightly by then. They are cakey in the best possible way, fudgy, rich and moist. Different to brownies made with chocolate, but there is no need to compare as both types are wonderful.

  16. 5 stars
    These are amazing! I have always loved the boxed brownies and these are the closest I have found to the boxed ones… but better! I made a double batch for Christmas treat boxes 🙂

  17. Hi, I’d love to make your recipe! Do you have a recommendation for the amount of flour in grams (or ounces)? I find it rather difficult to correctly measure out flour using measuring cups, so I try to use my kitchen scale whenever possible.

    Many thanks and have a great day!

  18. 5 stars
    I’m a brownie purist. I HATE nuts or chocolate chips in my brownies. That being said, I’ve searched far and wide for a brownie recipe that would provide the perfect texture, not to dense, gooey, or cakey, a rich, not too sweet, chocolatey flavor, and a gorgeous shiny top. @buttermilkbysam made it happen! This recipe didn’t need tweaked one bit! These brownies are perfection.

  19. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite brownie recipe. Followed the recipe exactly and even bought both of the Dutch Cocoa you recommend. Could not be easier, could not be better. Thank you for another fantastic recipe.

  20. I was hoping you could add the gram measurements for more consistent accuracy if we make these more than once! Just made them again after a while and I clearly used way too much butter after googling the cup to gram conversion 🙁

  21. Any way you can provide the measurements in grams (vs cups) that way we can use a scale and make sure we get it right. I always find it hard to understand what 1 cup of cubed butter is or how did you measure your flour (spooned into the cup or cup directly scooping out of the bag etc) I feel like measurements with a scale makes for a much more accurate bake right off the bat! Thank you 🙂

  22. 5 stars
    I love these brownies! I wish I had had a thermometer to help when double boiling, I’m pretty sure I did this step much longer than needed. I wasn’t sure if it was recommended to grease the pan and paper, didn’t say to or not to, so I did. After cooking for 43 min they seemed done on the outside layer and still gooey in the center 4 squares. I let them cool completely, many hours, then cut. The center 4 have a raw like appearance still. The outside is done with the center being raw like. I may just need to cook longer, but I have concern that the outside will be too hard at that point.

  23. Hi do you have the measurements in weight rather than volume. I prefer to weight my ingredients since it is more accurate.

  24. 5 stars
    Tried these last night and they were sooo good. We had to restrain ourselves. Very fudgy. I used an 8×8 glass pan and it took about 46 min in our oven. I maybe could have done a min longer. I also measured the flour in grams to prevent cakiness.

  25. 5 stars
    hi! I made these today and wow the flavor was amazing! I just wanted to check though: these aren’t the super dense, heavy, stick to your teeth, I-can’t-eat-more-than-one-at-one-go kind of brownie, are they?

    my brownies turned out like a really moist chocolatey cake with a layer of almost-set fudge in the middle. I might have to reduce baking time by a little for a more fudgy centre next time!

    • Hi Priscilla! I don’t think so – I know what you mean by that kind of brownie and these are not the same kind of stomach block some brownies are. Hopefully by now you’ve had a few and you can tell me! As for texture, mine always come out as pictured here – quite dense in the middle!

      • hi sam!

        phew! that was what I was hoping you’d say; I’m personally not a fan of those type of brownies so I’m loving these ones!

        I’m not sure if I overcooked them though as they were in the oven for 45minutes and I used a dark pan. I made them again today and stuck to the baking time of 40 minutes and they poofed up quite a lot then sunk down. I’m leaving them to cool as I type this so fingers crossed they’ll look like yours when I cut them!

        • it’s me again!

          so… I cut them when they’d cooled completely and they were still really gooey in the middle.. the outer edges were perfect, but the middle was just.. it looked like a molten lava cake.

          I’m guessing I should bake my brownies for 42 minutes next time!

  26. 5 stars
    Loved these! Want these to definitely be my go to from now on however, the outer sections were perfect but the middle was pretty undercooked and raw. Baked in an 8×8 for 43 min. Any suggestions? Thinking maybe a 9×9 next time? or cook longer? Thank you!!

    • Hi Terry! A few people have had this issue so I’m raising the cooking time to 50, if necessary. (see note above) Question, did you cut the brownies before they completely cooled?

    • 5 stars
      These are probably the best brownies I’ve ever made. I made a german chocolate topping for them after they finished baking and topped with flaky sea salt. I’ve always had an issue with over baking brownies, but they were just right this time, and I loveee fudgy brownies so this recipe is perfect!!

    • So sorry Aenna! It could have been due to a number of things; the accuracy of ingredient measurements (especially the flour), over-beating the batter, over-baking the brownies or even something else! Email me, if you want to trouble-shoot!

  27. 5 stars

    I followed the recipe to a T, baked for a little less than 40 minutes because I used a 6×10 glass baking dish, and these brownies are insanely delicious!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. It’s a keeper!

  28. Is there a way to make these for high altitude? We live at 6,000 feet above sea level. They look like the type of brownies my boys will LOVE!

    • Hi Kristen! I used to live at 5,000 above so I know your frustration. Since there is no leavening in this recipe I’m thinking no major adjustments need to be made but your bake time/temperature might vary. King Arthur Flour has a great guide on baking at high altitude and suggests raising the temperature by 15 (which would then affect the baking time and a few other things…). I’m inclined to say give this a go as is and if it doesn’t work out we can troubleshoot.

    • You could use natural. I personally don’t use or like natural, it’s never as chocolatey or rich in taste but since there is no leavening in this recipe it shouldn’t affect the texture.

  29. Hello. Im a little obsessed about brownies right now, and most of the recipes I’ve tried use brown sugar in adoption to the white sugar to make them more gooey but you don’t. Is there any particular reason because you just use the white one? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Hi Daniela! Awhile back I read an article from Cooks Illustrated which recommended white sugar for brownies as it helps get that nice crust at the top. And given that the recipe I started working off mine from (Mederich’s, linked in the text above) didn’t have it, I really didn’t see why I should add it.

    • Yes! You might want to still add a pinch of salt (salted butter varies – it can have between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per stick). If you are comfortable doing so, taste the batter.

    • Hi there! I honestly can’t say for sure since I haven’t tried it but both seem risky substitutes. Honey is much sweeter and brings more liquid into the bake (as well as some acidity and a prominent taste). For the dates, you’d need to make a date paste (with water) and puree it, but even then I’m not sure it would work out, the date taste would also be quite strong and incompatible here.

    • Hi there! You could do it over direct heat but you risk overcooking it or burning it. Any heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water will do and is better to avoid the risk.

  30. How vital is it to get the temperature reading? I don’t have a thermometer unfortunately but I want to try this recipe!

    • Hi Kelsey! It really does help to have the thermometer, however if you don’t I’d say keep a hawk eye on it. Once the butter has melted, add the cocoa and sugar and stir. You’ll keep stirring as it cooks – at first it will come together in a paste and then at 140, you’ll start to see it separate a bit (the oils move out) at this point take it off the heat! It’s not perfect but it could do.

  31. 5 stars

    OMG. This recipe is wowow. I am bad at baking dessert but boy this recipe has blown my mind and taste buds. 10/10 would recommend.

    • 5 stars
      Really loved this recipe! It’s the first recipe that I’ve tried that’s gave me tall, goey brownies! The rich cocoa flavor is exactly what I was looking for – I make these any time I’m craving brownies. Only reason I gave 4 stars and not 5 is because I think they bake a tad bit too soft in the middle – it does get better once they cool. I’ve even baked a bit longer and it still comes out softer than my family’s preference – but they’re amazing enough that this is still my go-to recipe!

  32. Listen, I was so excited to make brownies that looked like this, but when I pulled them out of the oven, somehow I made a popover. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it definitely did not make brownies.

    • Oh no Jobin! So sorry that happened. Perhaps you overbeat the eggs or mismeasured the ingredients? Hope you try them again!

      • Same here. Mine turned out very very cakey. I beat the eggs mixture until smooth & silky as per recipe. I usually just stir in the eggs – lightly.

        • Hi Sue! Sorry they weren’t up to expectation! The batter doesn’t need to be beaten too long, with my hand mixer I usually get it ‘silky’ in 20 seconds. I can usually achieve the same texture with a whisk and some quick, swift moves. Cakey-ness could also be related to the size of the eggs (extra large instead of large) or how the flour was measured.

  33. As a long time thrifty cook, ‘have never been convinced of the necessity to keep chocolate around (it then goes funny in storage) Cocoa on the other hand is a staple, and have made deliciously lush things with it, most of the chocolatiest recipes seem to use cocoa only! Using good (unsalted and preferably organic) is essential butter and maybe enhancing with a dash of very strong espresso’s good. After all bar chocolate more or less just has the cocoa butter added and sugar.

    • I prefer recipes that rely on cocoa for the chocolate flavor as well. Plus cocoa keeps indefinitely. I have actually used cocoa that was several years old with no loss in flavor and quality. My favorite cocoa is still Droste’s!

    • agreed fiona! Chocolate comes with the unnecessary additions of sugar and butter which you are already adding to a brownie recipe anyway. Cocoa keeps it extremely chocolatey =)