Pizza. Spaghetti and meatballs. Cinnamon toast. Fried rice. Brownies.
What do these apparently random dishes all have in common?
They’re on my personal list of Foods I’ll Never Grow Tired Of.
I could eat any of these foods every day, any time of the day. Fried rice for breakfast? Done that. Cinnamon toast with the 11 p.m. news? Comfort, baby. Spaghetti and meatballs (pizza on the side) after church on Sunday? It doesn’t get any better.
And brownies. If I had to pick just one dessert to accompany me throughout eternity, it might just be brownies.
Not just any brownies, mind you. The brownies you’ll read about below. The ones I actually created myself, after years of fooling around with various recipes.
I’m under no illusion that these brownies are some momentous discovery, some miracle of culinary research akin to Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine. In fact, they’re exquisitely similar to many, MANY other brownie recipes.
But I’ve added a ”secret ingredient“ here, an amount tweak there, and a dab of technique to make what we here at King Arthur proudly call our Guaranteed Fudge Brownie, the ne plus ultra of brownie-dom—in our humble opinion.
Now, before you get all up in arms over this proclamation, notice that it comes with a disclaimer: These are the Best Brownies in the World IN OUR OPINION. Brownies are like wine, or cheese, or any other greatly beloved food. One man’s white Zinfandel is another man’s Chateau d’Yquem. To each his own Gorgonzola.
Brownies can be fudgy unto completely under-baked gooeyness, or they can masquerade as chocolate cake. They can be bitter enough to provoke a twinge behind the ears, or so sweet you wonder where the chocolate went. There’s the nuts/no nuts controversy. The fans of a pretty, shiny top vs. those who say, “Who cares, so long as it’s chocolate.” In short, to each his own.
But if you like a brownie that’s somewhere between bitter and sweet—call it semisweet; that’s midway between melted fudge and airy cake (we call it “on the fence”); and that, yes, has a GORGEOUS shiny top, a top that flakes off in tiny, delicate shards as you cut it—
Then this is your brownie.
Read our Guaranteed Fudge Brownie recipe as you follow along with these pictures.
Let’s start with the chocolate. I use cocoa, rather than solid chocolate. I think it makes a richer, darker, tastier brownie. I especially like our Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, a mixture of “black” cocoa (a super-dark cocoa); and Dutch-process cocoa, which is unsweetened baking cocoa that’s been treated to lower its acidity, letting its lovely flavor shine through.
Next, the secret ingredient: espresso powder. Don’t tell me you don’t like coffee! You won’t taste any coffee in these brownies. Like vanilla, espresso simply heightens chocolate’s flavor.
Now, for the lesson in technique. Put 2 sticks of butter and 2 1/4 cups of sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave till the butter melts.
While the butter is melting, put 4 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
Add the cocoa, baking powder, espresso powder, salt, and vanilla, mixing till smooth.
Take the butter/sugar out of the microwave.
Stir till well combined.
Then, put it back into the microwave, and heat till the mixture BARELY comes to a bubble, maybe 90 seconds to 2 minutes. You don’t want it to boil, so keep your eye on it. Remove it from the microwave when you see it starting to foam.
Why this extra step of melting the butter with the sugar? Our King Arthur product development director, Sue Gray, taught me this trick. Melting the sugar and butter together allows some of the sugar to migrate to the top of the batter during baking, forming that signature shiny/crackly crust.
Add the hot butter/sugar to the chocolate mixture in the bowl.
Stir together, then add the flour.
Stir to make a smooth batter.
Decision time: Do you want chocolate chips that show, and add a bit of chunkiness to your brownies? Or do you want the chips to simply melt into a rich smoothness, perfectly amalgamated within the brownie?
For chips that retain their shape and add chunkiness, let the batter cool for about 20 minutes before adding the chips, stirring occasionally to hasten the process. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350°F, if you haven’t already done so.
For brownies where the chips melt right into the brownie, add them to the hot batter immediately, stirring to combine.
I prefer my chips to remain evident. This batter rested for 20 minutes before I quickly and gently stirred in the chips. If you beat or stir too long, the batter is still warm enough that the chips will dissolve, so take it easy.
Line a 9” x 13” pan with parchment, and grease the parchment. Is this necessary, all of you without parchment ask? No. But it sure is nice to be able to remove brownies from the pan intact, without sticking and crumbling.
Scoop the batter into the pan.
Shake the pan and/or use a spatula to smooth the batter into the corners.
Bake for 30 minutes. Or 28 minutes. Or however long it takes your 350°F oven to bake the brownies PERFECTLY.
Translation: A toothpick or cake tester, inserted into the center and poked around a bit, will reveal no unbaked batter—just very moist crumbs. Let me stress: VERY moist crumbs. In my 350°F oven here in the test kitchen, that’s a consistent 30 minutes.
Yes, this doneness test makes a divot in the center of your beautiful pan of brownies. But since you’ll cut them into squares anyway, so what? Save the divoted one for yourself.
Loosen the edges of the brownies. A baker’s bench knife works well here, though a table knife would also do the job. Let them cool in the pan till they’re lukewarm. Then slice into 2” (more or less) squares, which is four rows lengthwise, and six crosswise: 2 dozen brownies.
Now, take your bench knife (or a spatula) and insert it between the edge of the pan and the brownies. Lift up.
The brownies should slide right out, so long as you’ve used parchment.
See that gorgeous, shiny top? And note the lighter-colored chips evident on the left side of this brownie—that’s the look you’ll get when you wait for the batter to cool before adding the chips.
Serve with cold milk, or a cup of coffee. Heaven…
Carolyn commented below, “Will this recipe work in the Brownie Edge pan?”
So far, so good.
Will it overflow?
Not at all. It's PERFECT. Just bake about 5 minutes longer, as it makes a slightly thicker (1 1/2”) brownie, with edges on at least two sides. If you like brownie edges, or know someone who does—this pan's for you. And as Janet (our Web designer and devoted brownie-edge fan) points out, “If you're lucky you can have a piece with edges on THREE sides.”
Can't beat that, huh?
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Guaranteed Fudge Brownies.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: The Night Kitchen Bakery, Philadelphia, PA: “Best of Philly” Fudge Brownie, $2.00
Bake at home: Fudge Brownie, 32¢