I have been baking brownies with Alice Medrich’s recipe for the longest time. I love fast and simple recipes, so this one that requires just cocoa powder means that I don’t have to stock up on baking chocolate AND cocoa powder to satisfy that sudden urge for homebaked chewy brownies. I bake more at home with cocoa powder anyway.
Most brownie recipes are very versatile. Versatile in the sense that I can alter the ingredients slightly, and the brownie will still come out pretty, maybe a little bit less chewy, more spongy etc, but always edible. If you have tried adjusting a cake recipe, you will understand why I appreciate a versatile recipe.
I have halved the sugar in the recipe and it still works, albeit producing a less moist and thus a less luxurious texture for me. The sweet spot so far is 190g for me.
I have also topped this brownie with marshmallows, walnuts, almond slices, M&Ms, salt flakes but they are just as enjoyable when baked plain.
I have stirred in a shot of espresso, and tasted not much difference.
I have also tried with 80g eggs and 55g eggs, depending on which egg seller I buy from, the end result is a difference in how high the brownie gets leavened. A more spongy cake-like brownie is achieved with a wetter batter, i.e. bigger eggs.
In other words, this recipe has never failed me.
What will I try next? Peanut butter, Nutella spread, Speculoos, toasted coconut, white chocolate buttons, cherry liquor… I am surprised that I have not bake more variations over the years. To me having it plain is the best way for a satisfying chocolate fix, that is why this is often touted as the best cocoa brownies to bake.
After baking this for years, I have adapted the original recipe and threw in a few tricks to shorten the preparation time required or vary the ingredients to use what I have at home. Check them out, annotated with asterisks. I hope they help! Have fun baking and eating!
Have fun baking and eating!
ALICE MEDRICH’S BROWNIES
adapted from here and here
140G unsalted butter, softened ** (1)
190g raw sugar
65g unsweetened cocoa powder ** (2)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold eggs ** (3)
65g cake flour ** (4)
** Tip 1 : Soften the butter beforehand to save time on melting the butter over steaming water. 1 hour prior to start baking, I will weigh the butter, then leave it to soften in a 16cm saucepan that I always use to mix this brownie batter. The long handle makes it easier for me to mix the batter “vigorously”, which I am often required to do so according to the original recipe.
** Tip 2 : Natural or Dutch processed cocoa powder are both fine to be used according to the recipe, but I have been baking with dutch processed version from Van Houten. Use what you normally keep at home to bake with.
** Tip 3 : Original recipe asked for large eggs. I used relatively small eggs that weigh about 55g with shells for this bake. The brownie did not rise as much compared to brownies that I baked with 70-80g eggs, which could rise so much that the surface crack, the brownie would then sink back slightly after cooling down, but the difference in the thickness of the brownie is pretty obvious with the choice of egg size.
**Tip 4 : The original recipe stated all purpose flour, I have also used cake flour and top flour which produced finer texture brownies with former being my favorite if I have it at home. Use what you have at home.
To prep, line 8×8 in baking pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 160C.
In a sauce pan/ heatproof mixer bowl, place softened butter, raw sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt, and place this over a pot/ wide skillet with barely simmering water (** Tip 5 : use boiled water from electric pot to save time) on lowest fire to melt the butter. Make sure the base of the saucepan / mixer bowl does not touch the water in the pot/skillet.
Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and warm enough to melt the sugar, and dipping finger without scalding it (be careful!).
Set the mixture aside to cool it down enough before adding vanilla extract and the eggs, one by one, stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon after each addition.
Add in the flour, and stir until you no longer see any white specks flour. Then beat vigorously with the spoon for at least 40 strokes.
Pour the batter into the lined pan and level the surface with the back of the spoon. Bake in a preheated oven for 25-28 minutes at 160C.
Cool completely before cutting it into 16 pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.