I want an intense brownie recipe worth skipping the box
July 10, 2016 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a brownie recipe that makes the deepest, richest, choco-crazy brownies? One that beats the box? Because my eyes were opened recently to a realm of brownie I didn't know was possible.

I find the boxed Ghirardelli brownie mix so good that I haven't made brownies from scratch in years. I am not a lazy baker - I never do boxed cake or boxed much of anything - but that boxed brownie mix is better than anything I have ever made myself and I was convinced it was the ultimate brownie. But then I had a brownie that was so much better. It wasn't all that sweet, had a chocolate ganache on the top, and was very fudge-like. all I know is that it had espresso powder in it and was purposefully made to be more chocolatey and less sugary than a kid's brownie.

I didn't ask for the recipe but now I can't rest. Do you make brownies that sound like this? Please, inundate me with your recipes! Note: I do most of my recipes by weight and I am comfortable in both American-style cups and teaspoons and metric, so, any method is fine.
posted by Foam Pants to Food & Drink (47 answers total) 129 users marked this as a favorite
I swear by the recipe that's on the back of the Baker's baking chocolate box. I make it as written except I add about 1/2 T of espresso powder. Easy and deliciously chocolatey!
posted by bookmammal at 4:59 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

These are my go to brownies, and they're astounding. I generally add a little instant coffee to deepen the flavor, and skip the nuts. They're fudgy and rich and need no icing.
posted by obfuscation at 5:00 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a personal favorite brownie recipe that is sort of similar. It's Ina Garten's "Outrageous Brownies" (with certain slight modifications): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/outrageous-brownies-recipe3.html

They're dense and extremely chocolatey, but not quite fudgy on account of the amount of baking powder used to leaven them. But they have a bit of coffee in them and they're very richly chocolatey (they're mostly chocolate, by weight) and they're less sugary than a lot of brownies.
posted by mister pointy at 5:00 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

These are excellent and easy, I also love the recipe below for when I want even more brownies. (Don't be fooled, a 9x13 pan makes many more than 24 brownies.)

I don't usually bother with ganache. The trick is always to undercook them slightly.

Recipe: Supernatural Brownies

Adapted from "Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant
Showstoppers," by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998)

Time: About 1 hour

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment
paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over
barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter
and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk
eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If
using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If
using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40
minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
posted by jeather at 5:09 PM on July 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Moosewood Fudge Brownie recipe is nice and chocolately. It's also pretty forgiving. Remove a bit of sugar, change the mix of chocolates (I usually just melt whatever dark chocolate bars/chips I've got on hand), substitute espresso for the vanilla, add a pinch of cayenne, etc.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:10 PM on July 10, 2016

Oh, and I always just toss in either instant espresso powder, or actual espresso, or coffee-flavoured liqueur. You can add it to any brownie recipe.
posted by jeather at 5:10 PM on July 10, 2016

Smitten Kitchen's Best Cocoa Brownies are fabulous and every time I make them, at least one person asks for the recipe. They're dense, rich, and very chocolately.
posted by angelchrys at 5:11 PM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

One thing that Ghirardelli does well that is a bit different than many others is the quality of the chocolate. Choosing good chocolate makes a difference. Hersheys has a dark powder, hard to find but goes a really long way adding a teaspoon to a regular recipe. If you're not looking for a mocha/coffee flavor still a tiny bit of coffee, like one teaspoon can give a bit of a kick without any noticeable coffee taste.
posted by sammyo at 5:12 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think I read somewhere that coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in baked goods.
posted by aniola at 5:26 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fair trade and direct trade chocolates are typically high quality. I would expect that in many cases, they're higher quality than Ghiradelli.
posted by aniola at 5:27 PM on July 10, 2016

My family bakes most things from scratch since my father has allergies to most processed baked goods. We always did boxed brownies, though, until my mom found this recipe. They are amazing. You don't have to top with icing or anything. They are so good that my cousin requested them at her wedding, and people refer to them as "[GrapeMom] Brownies".
posted by kellygrape at 5:34 PM on July 10, 2016

I frequently make these for department get-togethers, with the addition of some Ghiradelli's chocolate chips. Very rich. I prefer Scharffen Berger for the baking chocolate.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2016

This Fudgy Brownie recipie from king arthur is great: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/fudge-brownies-recipe. Add some espresso powder (1 tsp - 1 tbs, depending on taste) to really give it a deep, rich flavor.

Add Chocolate Chips as well. They melt in while baking and make a very nice texture and flavor.
posted by nalyd at 5:48 PM on July 10, 2016

These are by far the best homemade brownies I have ever made. Very dense and fudgie (and has instant espresso like the kind you had).
posted by noneuclidean at 5:50 PM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

The one above is what I was going to post: the brownie from Baked, which you can find at the blog noneuclidean linked to. It's about as rich as you can get. (They actually look way lighter in those blog pics than the ones I've turned out.)
posted by paperback version at 6:01 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Came to recommend the Baked Brownie recommended twice above me. They're Oprah's favorite brownies. 'Nuf said.
posted by cecic at 6:15 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ina Garten's brownies (linked above) are indeed outrageous and chocolaty!
posted by xingcat at 6:22 PM on July 10, 2016

These are from a book my mom got in the '70s called 'Chocolate Kicks for Chocolate Addicts' and are the only ones I've ever thought worth making from scratch - though no doubt part of it is childhood nostalgia! Good quality butter will also make a difference in all brownies, as will good quality vanilla. Will have to try these with espresso! I like the instant (micro ground?) coffee Starbucks does.

1 cup butter
5oz unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1tbl vanilla
1 cup flour

Melt butter and chocolate together, then dump everything together.
Bake 325F / 160C for about 30 min.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:37 PM on July 10, 2016

I use this recipe. It really is almost as easy as making a box mix, and holds up well to having peanut butter or other mix-ins added. I've also used almost twice the cocoa powder called for, sometimes, depending how cocoa-y I am feeling, and they still turn out great.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:59 PM on July 10, 2016

seconding obfuscation's brown butter brownie recipe. they're also my go-to and they're so easy to whip up (no melting chocolate!) and taste out of this world. walnuts aren't required, either, though I love the texture contrast.
posted by kerning at 7:00 PM on July 10, 2016

Use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa with any basic recipe. It takes it to a whole new level. It's so dense that I do a cookie dough crumble on top to lighten it up and add texture.

If you want to keep your box mix, you can switch out the oil for butter and add in your own espresso powder.
posted by myselfasme at 7:08 PM on July 10, 2016

These are fan-flipping tastic, and I still make them, even though I no longer work at CHOW.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:09 PM on July 10, 2016

I also love Smitten Kitchen's brownies, but this recipe instead, her "My Favorite Brownies." Intense, dark but not too very dark, fudgy brownies. They take 10 minutes to put together, nothing too complicated. And, boy, do they get the job done. Made a batch the other night. Yum!
posted by primate moon at 7:10 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

CTRL-F "Bittman".

This is probably the recipe I swear by, although I can't be sure. The recipe from the original How to Cook Everything is straightforward and fantastic.

Also, and I discovered this on accident, if you make it with raw sugar, you get a lovely caramelized layer that rises to the top of the brownie.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:33 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Came in here to recommend the recipe angelchrys has already posted. I usually have all the ingredients in the house already so can make them at a moment's notice.
posted by imaginary_mary at 8:56 PM on July 10, 2016

Pick a recipe with no flour and use the highest quality cocoa powder and chocolate that you can find/afford. I had a can of this for a while that I used almost exclusively in flourless brownies and it was amazing.
posted by Red Desk at 9:07 PM on July 10, 2016

I am also a huge fan of that Ghirardelli mix! It is the best! Last summer discovered this recipe (recommended a few times above!) though and decided to give it a shot when I was staying at someone else's apartment and they had all the ingredients I needed. It is completely different from the magical Ghirardelli mix. It has a more dense, grainier texture. Not so gooey. It is less sweet and more chocolatey and I am in love.

I have made it a few times since for myself and others, and it's such a treat. It definitely feels and tastes like a homemade brownie. Another thing I liked about it when I first made it was a bit of salty flavor. I used crushed sea salt from one of those sea salt grinder shaker things. I have since used normal salt and the flavor doesn't come through as much. Anyway, I think this might suit your fancy!
posted by sweetjane at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2016

I make a slightly bastardized version of the Bittman brownies that steady-state strawberry linked to. They are the best brownies I have ever made - they beat the Ghirardelli mix (which is pretty good).

Things to add: Reeses' mini PB cups cut in half; pretzels; cutup Twix bars.
posted by honeybee413 at 9:32 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you really want to take your brownie recipe to the next level, sprinkle raw cocoa nibs across the top of your mix before baking. They will give you a crunchy, super-choc topping that will give you a head-rush from the goodness. And no added sugar.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:33 PM on July 10, 2016

Olive + Gourmando in Montreal makes my favourite brownies anywhere. Last year, the Montreal Gazette published the recipe, which includes espresso ganache and calls for Valrhona and Callebaut chocolates.
posted by praiseb at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2016

Lots of excellent recipes above, just chiming in to make sure you underbake them a bit, and let them sit to at least room temperature when they're baked. It's maddening but they really are better once they set up. I actually like them cold.

Let us know what works for you!
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:40 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Listen to noneuclidean and their multiple +1s. I've eaten many brownies but none like those. They are epic.
posted by town of cats at 9:52 PM on July 10, 2016

Nth-ing the Baked recipe, and using Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder. That cocoa powder is my secret weapon for any chocolate cake or brownie. I promise you will get requests for your recipe from everyone if you use that cocoa powder.
posted by soleiluna at 10:04 PM on July 10, 2016

Whichever recipe you use, use Guittard chocolate. This is a trade secret that I learned from two different professional bakeries, both of whom make incredible cakes and cookies. People happily paid $10-$12 for a single slice of cake.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:19 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I loooove this thread! Nthing the Baked brownie...I have made it many times. I love it, and so does everyone I've shared it with!
posted by bookworm4125 at 2:25 AM on July 11, 2016

I reduce flour, add chocolate chips, and put the pan directly from the oven into the freezer. I don't know exactly what putting them in the freezer to cool does but it makes the brownies nice and dense and chewy and chocolatey.
posted by betsybetsy at 4:15 AM on July 11, 2016

My rule of thumb for brownies is to ensure that the recipe has one egg yolk for every ounce of chocolate. Several of the posted recipes fit into that category. If I remember later, I'll post one I've used for about 25 years that fits into that category.
posted by plinth at 7:17 AM on July 11, 2016

The King Arthur recipe nalyd posted is my go-to. The texture is perfect and they're very chocolatey and rich.
posted by torridly at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2016

These brownies (originally from Cook's Illustrated, posted here by Brown-Eyed baker, but different from the Brown-eyed recipe posted above) were designed to replicate and then surpass a boxed mix. There's something about the fat ratios that makes it work. It's delicious!
posted by TrarNoir at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2016

These brownies are made with actual dark chocolate, the batter is prepared in a saucepan. Makes a very dense brownie. Start with good chocolate and you'll get amazing results. The goat cheese and raspberry swirl with the recipe is a perfect pairing, but optional.
posted by lizbunny at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2016

My "recipe" gets all kinds of compliments, but the truth is embarrassingly simple. I use the same Ghirardelli box mix you use, but I also buy a dark chocolate bar with the highest percentage of cocoa I can find. I dice it into tiny pieces and toss it into the batter. The result is that the brownies are both richer and slightly less sweet.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:17 AM on July 11, 2016

This recipe from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc book is my go to. For even better (read: more fudgey) results, swap the flour for a 1:1 gluten-free mix. I also like to brown the melted butter for a bit more depth of flavour.
posted by experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall at 3:56 PM on July 11, 2016

OK - dug this out this morning. I picked this up from rec.food.cooking around 1987 or so. Text is verbatim. These are among the best I've had. I've been known to put 3/4 C of semisweet chocolate chips into the batter with the nuts, because chocolate.

World's Best Brownies
If you replace the butter with margarine, it becomes the 2nd best. If you replace the chocolate w/ 3/4 c. cocoa and 1/2 stick margarine it is still quite good. But if you really want the best...

- 4 oz. UNsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 lb. butter
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 eggs (yes, 4)
- 1 1/4 c flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 & 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Grease a 9"x13" pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or gently (!) in a small saucepan [or a microwave, but not together -- butter melts much faster than chocolate -- Tovah]. Let it cool a bit. Stir in sugar and salt. Add eggs ONE AT A TIME, stirring between each one. Add the flour and mix. DO NOT OVERMIX, it will make the brownies tough. Add the vanilla and nuts, and bake for ONLY 20 to 25 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK, it will make the brownies dry and caky.
posted by plinth at 5:21 AM on July 13, 2016

Whichever recipe you use, use Guittard chocolate

I'll second that rec. I've been VERY happy baking with it.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 PM on July 13, 2016

The "Baby Brownies" from The New Basics Cookbook are incredible. You cut them into 1" squares because any larger would be too much for one person. The secret is melting good quality chocolate with chocolate syrup, then stirring in egg and vanilla and a teeny bit of flour to keep it together.


I recommend removing them from the oven before the recommended cooking time. A little underdone is the secret.
posted by rouftop at 2:34 PM on July 19, 2016

My go-to is the Choc Star recipe for Ultra Fudge Brownies, which you can find near the end of this Independent article on street food. They're very dark and rich, as you can tell from the ingredients: 375g of 70% dark chocolate; 250g salted butter (British butter has 1.8g of salt in 100g); 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder; 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder (I use Droste); 500g sugar; 6 eggs; 110g self-raising flour. As with rouftop's Baby Brownies, cut them small!
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:03 AM on July 21, 2016

I use this recipe for brownies. It is the best one I ever found. These are extra dark brownie cookies and it is the best to make them with Belgian dark chocolate . Very rich choco flavor and incredible taste.

Chocolate Brownie Ingredients and Instructions

2 small sticks Butter softened - high fat - no salt added
1.5 cups baker's cane Sugar
Cream this together

.5 tsp Salt (use only fine ground salt)
1 tsp Mexican Vanilla (produces finest results)
1 tsp Baking Soda (Arm and Hammer is the best option)
2.25 cups unbleached ground Flour
2 Large Whole Eggs (free range, organic brown eggs are best)
18 oz of (Belgian) Dark Chocolate 64%
6 TBSP Red Cacao Powder

Spoon dough as small flat orbs onto parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 375F for 13 minutes,


Serve - Makes about 2.5 dozen Extra Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies
posted by Lazar89 at 10:43 AM on August 2, 2016

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