I'm not sure I even remember when and where I got this cookbook or even why. Probably because it had chocolate in the title and/or it was on sale and my Pavlovian response to either stimulus is to buy it. I flipped through it for my baking challenge and nothing really caught my eye to try so I defaulted to the brownie recipe. Turns out this brownie was well worth the $5 or $6 I paid for this cookbook even if I never try another recipe from it again.
This brownie has exactly the kind of texture I like - it's dense and fudgy but not overly mushy or underdone. It's definitely not cakey and the chocolate is a dark chocolate taste, not overly sweet. You can do almost any kind of add-in besides or in addition to chocolate chips since the texture can support it. Plus it's easy to make. Whenever I say that, I have friends roll their eyes and tell me "my brownies never turn out like yours." I'm trying not to keep being baffled by that. Brownies are so easy to make. There isn't a magic formula to them but I'll tell you the number one mistake I think people make with brownies is they overbake them. We're conditioned to "bake until done". But "done" with a brownie is different than done with a cake or a cookie. You know a brownie is done when a toothpick comes out clean at the corners but with a few moist crumbs in the middle. Moist crumbs, not raw batter. If you go for a clean toothpick test from the middle, your brownies are likely to be overbaked, especially at the edges and corners which will be dry once the brownies cool. I try to take close-up pictures of the brownies I bake so you can see what I mean by a fudgy texture.
Baking times also vary by oven and the times listed in recipes are meant to be a guideline, not an absolute. Err on the side of caution and toothpick test your brownies at least 5-10 minutes before the recommended baking time on the recipe. I've said this before and I'll keep saying it until everyone can make good brownies: chocolate "sets" as it cools so what might seem underdone or too moist when they're in the oven may become perfect and perfectly fudgy after you take them out of the oven and the brownies have cooled.
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chocolate chips, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Sift the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together into a bowl; set aside.
3. In a medium-large, heavy saucepan, combine the butter and espresso powder and stir over low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate, stirring constantly until the mixture appears completely smooth, approximately 2 minutes.
4. Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and add the sugars, mixing until combined.
5. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue stirring until they are evenly incorporated and the mixture does not appear grainy.
6. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the chips, if using.
7. Pour the batter into the greased pan and smooth the top. Bake the brownies for 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool completely on a wire rack.