Perfect Brownies, I Can Makes Them

July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

All thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, who I absolutely adore. It is by far my favorite cooking magazine and reference, because they not only give you the recipe and a maybe a little story to go along with it, but they tell you why and how it works. Not only that, they describe the process they used to get to the final recipe, including all the different ways they went wrong. I love that. I try to do it myself for, presumably, they same reason they do: partly so if you want to make a change to the recipe you’ll already know exactly what happens when you do certain things and you don’t have to repeat my mistakes, but also so if one of those “mistakes” happens to be the result you want, now you know how to do that, too. And not only that, sometimes those bits of information can be applied to other recipes and experimentations, once again demonstrating that all knowledge is worth having. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you get yourself access to CI, either digitally or on paper.

Yes, they are as good as they look. Possibly better.

So. Brownies. I looooooove chewy fudgy brownies. I hate double boilers. These two things have kept me from making brownies from scratch, well, forever. Because most decent brownie recipes make you melt your chocolate down in a double boiler, and then they result  in cakey brownies. If that’s your thing, go with god and Baker’s box recipe and party on. If, like me, you prefer the chewy, fudgy variety brownie that is usually produced only from a red box filled with powder (I always liked Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, myself), read on.

See, it turns out that the secret to fudgy brownies is not just the right proportion of fats, liquids, and solids but the right types of fats in the right percentages. Brilliant! And best of all (for me anyhow, with my hatred of the double boiler), you do all of your melting in boiling water that’s part of the recipe!

I adapted this recipe very slightly from the published one, and I’ve included the brand names of the chocolates I use –they are not the same as the ones used by CI — because I happen to really like the way this combination turns out. You might like a different combo. Experiment until you find the right combo for you. I tried Ghiradelli unsweetened bars the first time and they have a serious citrus overtone that is, while sorta yummy, not what I’m looking for in a brownie. No matter what combo you choose, these brownies will be chewy, deeply fudgy, and have a lovely crisp top.


(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)


  • 1/3c. Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2c. plus 2Tbsp boiling water
  • 2oz. Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2c. plus 2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2c. sugar
  • 1 3/4c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 6oz. dark chocolate chips (those melty ones you get in bulk to make fondue with at the grocery store — I found them in the bakery section — see picture, below)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13×9 pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water together until smooth. Add in unsweetened chocolate and continue to whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (CI notes at this point that the mixture may look curdled; I have not had this issue.) Whisk in eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Whisk in sugar. Stir in flour and salt (CI indicates a rubber spatula for this part; I use a wooden spoon and it seems to work fine) until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Fold in chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350° 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on a rack for 1 1/2hrs. Using foil, remove brownies from pan and place on rack to cool another hour before serving.*

*Okay look, this is 2 1/2 hours of cooling time. I don’t know about you, but there is no chance in hell that fresh brownies are going to get that much alone time at my house. I usually make it about 45 minutes before I start cutting.

These are the chippy things I'm talking about -- they're like little discs.


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§ One Response to Perfect Brownies, I Can Makes Them

  • […] Tasteful Diversions. I spent a lazy afternoon perusing her recipes and was intrigued by her recent brownie recipe.  Laura had adapted the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and I opted to follow her version.  […]

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