Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies

Brownies are definitely my favorite way to eat chocolate but it was something I rarely made. That’s because for many years, I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine that required three kinds of chocolate, two of which had to be chopped. Now, I have to tell you that chopping chocolate gives me a pain. Literally. On my shoulders. That’s because when I lived in ‘RestaurantLand’- I chopped massive industrial-grade blocks of Callebaut chocolate for mousses, truffles, pots de creme, and so on. Being somewhat short in stature, I had to stand on tip toe while I did this and it became a rather onerous task resulting in sore shoulders and beads of sweat on my brow.  So I still carry the same wariness when I see a chocolate recipe requiring chopped chocolate and consequently never thought of brownies as a simple endeavor.

Recently however, I stumbled upon a recipe for Cocoa Brownies made ONLY using cocoa powder from a Christmas issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I was intrigued at the idea that I could make brownies from just cocoa powder and the rest of the ingredients could be found in my pantry. The first batch was achingly sweet so I made some adjustments on the amount of sugar and found the second batch pretty good. Then, I came across this recipe  from Food 52 and chocolate maven Alice Medrich. Again, it was just cocoa powder but the proportions of certain ingredients were different. I whipped up a batch pronto. It tasted richer and more intensely chocolatey than Bon Appetit’s version. The amount of butter and cocoa in Alice Medrich’s recipe was higher which accounted for the richer taste and dense mouth-feel.

Another happy discovery I made was when I used’Special Dark’ Hershey’s Cocoa which had both natural and Dutch processed cocoa. As an alternative, I added chopped roasted almonds since I always have them  in the fridge. I also made it in a round cake pan because it felt more festive and cake-like. This brownie baked up dark, almost black, making it hard to photograph. But it was perfect and irresistible. I polished off two big chunks while it cooled. Not very lady-like but I’m making no apologies- it was GOOD. I sliced up the rest for the husband and child along with my husband’s coworkers. (I believe in sharing calories with everyone!) It’s so nice to find a perfect dessert that can come straight from your pantry.  Enjoy!

Mise en Place for Cocoa Brownies

Mise en Place for Cocoa Brownies

Alice Medrich’s Brownies

Yield: 16 Large or 25 Small Brownies

10 T (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 T cocoa

1/4 t. salt

1/2 t. vanilla extract

2 large eggs, very cold

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup nuts, chopped

Equipment: 8″ square metal pan or 8″ round metal pan


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place the rack on the lower third of the oven. Grease and flour your pan and place a parchment circle in the bottom of the round pan or make a sling by folding 2 12-inch pieces of parchment lengthwise so they measure 7″ wide. Lay the first piece down and place the second sheet over it in a perpendicular. Make sure to grease both sheets of parchment to ensure an easy release.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a large metal bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir to combine the ingredients until melted.
  3. Take off heat and add the vanilla stirring well to combine. Add the cold eggs one at a time and stir well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the flour and beat 40 times with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  5. Stir in the nuts and spread mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until slightly puffy and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of stick crumbs. Let cool to room temperature and remove from pan.
  6. Cut into squares or wedges (for the round pan) and serve. Gild the lilly and add a plop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top. Eat and swoon. Repeat. Share with others!


Barbara-Lee Doyle

Posted July 05, 2013

Sounds good – – now if only I was allowed to indulge in Chocolate I’d give it a try.

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