These brownies are fudgy and chewy. It's not too sweet, yet has a rich, deep chocolate flavor enhanced with browned butter and chunks of dark and has that beautiful signature crinkly top. I studied for weeks to understand the inner workings of a brownie before developing this recipe. And as a chocolate lover, these are my perfect brownies.
You don’t need any special equipment to make these brownies; in fact, I prefer to make them by hand as this creates a denser, more fudge-like texture. You really only need a pan for heating, some bowls, a spatula, and your hopes and dreams about the perfect fudgy chewy brownie.
Which, by the way, this is a chewier brownie - not chocolate chip cookie chewy, but it definitely has more chew than most brownies. I have a sister brownie of this recipe, which is a fudgy gooey brownie with just a hint of chew, and it uses whole eggs (since this recipe requires some yolks and I know that bothers some bakers ;) ).
Brownies typically fall into one of two categories: cakey or fudgy. Within the fudgy category, there are fudgy brownies and fudgy-chewy brownies. These are the latter because they are creamy and fudgy with a very nice, dense chew. (I have yet to see an exclusively chewy brownie that isn't a cookie.)
These brownies use only cocoa powder to make the batter as I feel it is consistent for texture, flavor, and getting that crinkly top. Instead of melting chocolate into the batter, I prefer to add unmelted chopped chunks straight into the brownies right before baking. This provides textural and flavor contrast in every bite, and you can customize it based on your chocolate preference.
And speaking of flavor, my brownies have a mellow chocolate flavor from the Dutch-processed cocoa. There’s browned butter to enhance the cocoa flavor, and I like to use a combination of white and brown sugar resulting in a flavorful brownie that is not overly sweet.
The crinkly top on brownies is from sugar. (This idea is from Adam Ragusea's video, here on YouTube.) It needs to be sucrose, the sugar molecule in white sugar, and it needs to be dissolved fully at a specific concentration. I’ve figured that out for us, so you’ll always get the crackly top if you use my recipe. If you’re interested in how I developed this, check out my video below.
Dutch-processed (European-style) unsweetened cocoa is the source of chocolate flavor in this brownie. It is an alkalized form of natural cocoa and imparts a darker hue and more mellow flavor. This recipe is versatile enough to use any type of cocoa (natural, Dutch-processed, or even black), but try to choose a high-quality one. Dutch-processed is my preferred cocoa powder for almost all my baking as it has a fantastic flavor and color, and in the recipe, I use the Droste brand.
If you want to learn more about the differences of cocoa powders, I have a chart in this buttercream post here.
Salt is a flavor enhancer—brownies made without salt taste overly sweet and unbalanced.
Unsalted butter is the primary source of fat in this recipe. In this recipe, we’ll brown the butter, which melts the butterfat, evaporates the water, and toasts the milk solids. This toasting is done via the Maillard reaction, which releases flavorful compounds into the butterfat from browning the milk proteins. I also tend to use unsalted butter in most baking applications because salted butter varies in salt concentration and when used in large quantities.
Eggs/Egg yolks provide structure from the proteins as well as water. They are the primary water source in this brownie recipe and help dissolve the sugar to create the crispy crust atop the brownies and provide a touch of moisture.
Powdered sugar is one of two types of sugars used in this brownie. It’s very finely ground, so it will dissolve more readily than other sugars, which will help form a crispy top. This type of sugar is made entirely of sucrose, which will crystallize atop the brownie during baking.
Vanilla is a flavor enhancer in this brownie recipe.
All-purpose (or plain) flour is the starch in this recipe and gives the brownie structure.
Brown sugar is the second type of sugar, which contains a small fraction of molasses, which is a great flavor enhancer for chocolate. You can use either dark or light brown sugar in this recipe.
Chocolate chips (or chunks) add a more chocolate flavor and textural variety to the brownie’s interior. You can use any type of chocolate you like, and I love using a mix of chocolates. Since this brownie batter is not too sweet, I tend to gravitate towards a mixture of half semi-sweet chips and chopped dark chocolate. I’d mix semi-sweet chips and chopped milk chocolate if you prefer a sweeter brownie.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a baking pan with parchment so the brownies are easy to remove (1a).
Place your whole eggs in very hot tap water to warm up (1b). Switch it out a couple of times until the eggshells feel warm, like bath water. Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry, I’ll heat some water with my tea kettle and pour it into a bowl with half-warm water; then, I place the eggs (cold from the fridge) and let them hang out until I’m ready to use them. You’ll need the eggs to be at least room temperature to get the best crystallization on the top of your brownies. (There is no maximum temperature; just don’t cook them, which happens starting at 140°F/60°C) You can also just measure your eggs straight into the large mixing bowl and place that atop a large bowl that can hold your hot water and let that sit to warm up. This is a tad easier if you have trouble separating the yolk from the white, which is a little more challenging to do when the eggs are warm.
Add the cocoa powder and salt to a heat-proof bowl (2a). Add the butter to a light-colored pan and melt on medium-low heat (2b).
Once the butter has melted, and started foaming, and use a heat-proof spatula and stir and scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Once you start to see the milk proteins turn light brown, turn off the heat and continue to stir until the proteins turn medium brown (2c). Immediately pour the melted butter, scraping the milk solids from the pan and into the cocoa powder bowl (2d). Stir to mix and set aside to cool (2e).
To a large bowl, add powdered sugar, whole eggs, and egg yolk (3a). Use a whisk to stir until you see no powdered sugar, then whisk for another minute. No need to be vigorous; just comfortably mix for a full minute (3b). The final egg mixture should have no visible traces of sugar (3c).
Once the cocoa powder-butter mixture is slightly warm (just ensure it’s not hot so it doesn’t cook the eggs), pour it into the eggs (4a). Use a spatula to stir the chocolate mixture into the eggs (4b). It will feel liquid and loose, and as you stir, it will suddenly thicken up (4c). (It’s now emulsified!)
Ensure your brown sugar is not clumpy; try to smash the larger clumps with your fingers (4d). Fold that into the chocolate mixture (4e), followed by the flour (4f). Keep folding until the flour has mixed in; at this point, the batter will be very thick, like stirring a natural peanut butter (4g). When you stop stirring, it should settle very slowly. (This is the dissolved sugar in the low water content behaving like a thick syrup.)
I like to have a layer of just batter to top my brownie so I can admire a clean, crackly sugar top, so I set aside about a fourth of the batter in a small bowl (4h).
Add the chocolate chunks/chips to the leftover larger portion of batter (4i) and fold it all in (4j). If you’re not a weirdo like me, you can add all the chocolate to the entire bowl of batter.
Add the larger portion of the batter containing the chocolate pieces to the pan and spread out (5e). Top with the plain brownie batter (5b) and bake for about 20-25 minutes (5c).
Using a toothpick to assess doneness is tricky because you’ll likely hit a chocolate piece. But, the brownies are done when you see little crumbs and a thick batter stuck to the toothpick (5d). This is an interior temperature around 200°F/93°C (5e). Underbaking of brownies is a good thing, so check early for doneness, as instructed in the recipe card.
You can eat these while hot, but they’re best when slightly warm or cold. These decadent brownies contain a fair amount of butterfat, which is liquid when hot. If you try eating these brownies straight out of the oven, they may seem overly greasy. Don’t worry, they’re not; they just need to cool. When they’ve reached room temperature, the butter solidifies and will have a creamy, fudgy texture that’s not at all greasy.
Also, the brownie becomes chewier as they cool. Warmed, they are fudgy with a slight chew, but as they cool to room temperature, they will have a nice chew and thicker texture.
This is why brownies are typically at the top of my list to bring to potlucks or events where I know my dessert will be sitting out. I can make them the day before, and the flavor and texture improves when they’re ready to be served.
Brownies are very forgiving but are best when eaten within 48 hours of baking.
Usually, I just cut my brownies into squares after cooling them entirely and place them in a zip-top bag. I store them on my countertop at room temperature.
Baked brownies also freeze incredibly well. For that, you’d need to wrap the brownies in plastic wrap and then foil to keep the freezer odors out and moisture from the brownies in. Then, I label the brownies in a zip-top freezer bag with the date. When you’re ready to serve, just remove them from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for a few hours.
I research and develop everything on this site using weight (in grams), so they are listed first in the recipe card. Measuring by weight is the best way to replicate my recipes. This is particularly important with fluffy ingredients such as flour, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.
For measurements under 5 grams, I will typically list the volumetric measurements (teaspoons, etc.) as most home scales are not precise enough under that weight.
I have converted grams to volumes (cups, teaspoons, etc.) for American bakers who prefer it. These are not as precise and may have awkward proportions (such as ½ cup + 1 tablespoon). However, they still work.
This is the OXO scale I use daily. I also purchased this budget version of a good scale, which I keep at my Mom’s house for baking. If you’re interested in other tools I use for my baking, I’ve compiled a list here.
For an 8 x 8 pan:
For a 9 x 13 pan:
*You can use any type of cocoa powder here, but I prefer Dutch-processed or European-style cocoa. It has a beautiful dark color and mellow chocolate flavor. In this recipe, I’ve used the Droste brand, which I buy from Amazon, here.
**You can use any type of chocolate here, such as chips or cut-up chunks from a bar. If you prefer a sweeter brownie, go for a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate. I like a combo of semi-sweet and dark chocolate. Sometimes, I also like to use thin chocolate squares with filling (Ghirardelli makes some good ones) so that when you bite into your brownie, you get a fun, gooey filling of raspberry, caramel, or mint.
***Pans of varying materials will conduct heat differently and require different baking times. All of my brownies are tested in light-colored aluminized steel pans (you can see mine here on Amazon), but if you use a different pan, such as glass or ceramic, I suggest reading this post from King Arthur Baking to ensure you get your baking times correct.