May 28, 2009

The Best Brownies in the World

Food 1667

Yes, I realize that I am sounding quite complacent, announcing to you that these brownies are “The Best Brownies in the World.” After all, how many brownies have you enjoyed in your lifetime? If you are like me, likely you cannot recall each brownie, and likely, you couldn’t even begin to rank them from worst to best. I doubt I could list my top 5 brownies ever. So, you ask, how can I be sure that this is the best brownie? Well, my best, most well-thought-out answer?

Because I say so.

But I will explain more about that in a moment.

Of course, we as a society cannot even agree on what makes a brownie “the best brownie.” It’s definitely a subject for debate. Some insist cakey brownies are king. Some love fudgy. Some are purists and insist chocolate-only, some enjoy nuts. And let’s not even get started on whether frosting, cream cheese, or fruit belongs in or on a brownie. For a dessert that is so universally loved, it’s hard to define exactly what makes that dessert so great.

What makes a brownie the “best brownie in the world”, for me? I’m a bit of a purist. Nuts are acceptable (not preferred), but a real brownie does not have frosting, cream cheese, or any creative, extravagant ingredients. I enjoy those things at times, but when I think of a brownie, this is the criteria: The brownie must be chewy and fudgy. No cakey brownies for me – I like cakes that are brownie-like, but not brownies that are cake-like. And they must be intensely chocolatey, so I very much prefer those made with a high-quality melted chocolate. Cocoa powder just cannot deliver that chocolate flavor that makes your knees go weak and your eyes roll back in your head. In order for a brownie to be the “best”, it must consume me with its chocolatey-ness.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have delayed in sharing this recipe with you. Not because I don’t care. I do. I want you to enjoy the pleasures that this brownie has to give. It’s just…well…I made the recipe the first time, and was so impressed with it, that we ate all of the brownies before a picture was taken! And the second time? You would think I would have learned my lesson, especially with children around, but I didn’t get a picture taken that time either! So, third time is a charm. If it is any consolation, they are well worth the wait.

This recipe originally came from Saveur magazine, and were named Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies. I modified them to include the addition of miniature chocolate chips, and I cut the quantity of nuts back (or omitted them entirely, as I did with the most recent batch). These brownies are dense, with perfectly chewy edges (my favorite part) that almost remind you of a chocolate biscotti, only moister and chewier. They are just sweet enough, with enough salt to really allow the chocolate flavor to sing. And that delicate, glossy, crackly crust! Of course, they taste amazing on their own, with a glass of milk, or as my husband requests, still warm, with ice cream on top.

After this most recent batch, I announced to my husband that I had just made the best brownies in the world. My rationale, besides “Because I say so”, was that I could not think of a thing to do to improve them. They were perfect. I’m sure I’m biased, but I hope you agree!

8 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 c sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional – I did not include them in this batch)

1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini ones)

1/4 c flour

1/4 t kosher salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, grease the paper. Set aside.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to make a smooth batter. Add the nuts, if using, the chocolate chips, flour, and salt, stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Hint – letting brownies cool is the hardest part. The smell will be amazing and overpowering, and it will require all of your willpower to resist. But if you wish to cut neat, square brownies, then wait you must. The brownies will cut (instead of crumble) with a sharp knife once they are mostly cool. Of course, if you don’t care how crumbly your brownies are, then dig right in!

34 Responses to “The Best Brownies in the World”

  1. This is my kind of brownie!! I can’t wait to try them since they are the BEST!

  2. OMG they look divine! I’ve been hunting the WWW for the perfect brownie recipe. I too hate brownies with cakey texture. I enjoy the ooey-gooey-chewy brownies with a legit chocolate flavor. I’ve got to try these. Thanks for the post!

  3. Those look good! I do love a good fudgy brownie!

  4. Beautiful, fudgy brownies! I wonder if I can make them Gluten-Free and Vegan? Hmm.

    • Nancy, I have not yet tried, but I bet gluten-free would be relatively easy, as the recipe only calls for 1/4 c flour. I am not an experienced gluten-free baker, but perhaps even just one of the standard GF baking mixes would work? As for vegan, I am not so experienced on how to substitute egg. Let me know if you try it!

  5. Yum!!! I always liked my brownies chewy and fudgy. No frosting of any kind on top. Yours looks so moist. I’m drooling just at the sight of that picture. yum!!

  6. I’ll put in a vote for a GF version. Somehow, even tainted with the necessary GF modifications, I wonder if they still wouldn’t make it out of the kitchen…

  7. Those look scrumptious!!!!

  8. They look unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!

  9. They look delicious…and I agree….waiting to cut them is the hardest part!

  10. The best in the world! WOW, with a promise like that how can I not make these.

  11. Definitely trying these out. Thanks for sharing. This will be great work.

  12. I like mine moist, fudgy and without nuts! This looks like my kind of brownies! yum yum!

  13. That is quite a claim, so I may test it to see if it is true lol. marked for making at a later date. they look gorgeous. kisses :) xx Rico|Recipes

  14. I tried this recipe today and while the texture is great, it’s just not enough chocolate.

    • Am, I’m glad to hear you tried the recipe! I wonder how we can change it to be even MORE chocolatey for you. Maybe adding some dark chocolate cocoa powder? I might have to experiment with that a bit! If you experiment before I do, please let me know how it went and what you changed.

  15. Next time I make these, I’ll probably triple the unsweetened chocolate. If that doesn’t work for me, I’ll try cocoa powder as you suggested. I love how easy the recipe is. I mixed everything together in my little All-Clad pot, ha. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers.

  16. Simply divine! I will look no longer!

  17. For all those wondering about gluten free possibilities, I made this these brownies with a gluten free flour mix and they turned out great!

  18. Rachel – what’s really funny? I just tried this last night! You’re right, they are great!

  19. im going to try and makes these for christmas they sound really good i have been trying for years to make my brownies moist and fudgy but it never turns out good hopefully this recipe will be the one

  20. These are exactly what I am looking for. I want to serve these together with homemade Bailey’s Icecream as desert for new years eve. But since I am in Europe I hope you can help me real quick with some meassurements: I am not sure what T and t stands for? And what is kosher salt?
    Thank you in advance :-)

    • Susan, your dessert idea sounds superb! T = tablespoon, t = teaspoon. And kosher salt is a coarse-grain salt, although not as coarse as some sea salts. Hope this helps! Happy New Year!

  21. Pingback: Welcome 2010: Top Ten Gluten-Free Posts of 2009 (Plus a New Year’s Resolution or Two) « Tasty Eats At Home

  22. Ok, so you mentioned these being the best and then said there isn’t very much flour and I instantly thought of the brownies I think are the best and they are Dorie Greenspan’s Tribute to Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies in her Baking From My Home to Yours book (I’m with the TWD group). When we made those last year, I haven’t made (hardly) a different brownie since. Dorie’s are a bit different than the one you posted here. Hers uses just cocoa instead of chocolate. But everything else is the same. Now I want to try this recipe. Just to compare. But they do look great. That and I love the idea of gluten free. Do you think coconut flour would work and would it still need xantham gum? I think that is the only gluten free flour I have right now. Anyway, thanks for the 2009 run down. I love looking at everyone’s reminder posts.
    Happy New Year.

    • Katrina – I bet coconut flour would work just fine! I can imagine you can do without the xanthan gum. Not sure if they’ll be crumblier or not, that’s my only concern. But definitely try it! Maybe I will too – I love coconut flour!

  23. These brownies were amazing! I made them with a friend, and we put the sugar in at the end by accident, but it still turned out amazing! I can’t wait to try them again!

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  26. THESEBROWNIESWEREAMAZINGIMADETHEMWITHAFRIENDANDWEPUTTHESUGARINATTHEENDBYACCIDENTBUTITSTILLTURNEDOUTAMAZINGICANTWAITTOTRYTHEMAGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Pingback: The Best Brownies in the World | Cravings of a Lunatic

  28. These were amazing!! Bye Bye Betty Crocker!! My only change is I’ll double the recipe and make them in a 13×9 pan. We gobbled these up far too quickly

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