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Our Baking Cover Girl: ChefJune's Magic Espresso Brownies

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We're sharing a recipe from our upcoming book on baking and the story behind how this cover girl-worthy recipe came to be.


ChefJune has been a member of our community for the very start (her first recipe is from six years ago!), and she is the mastermind behind many of our site's beloved recipes: Her Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce, Crab Beignets, and OMG! Coconut Pound Cake are all OMG good.

But there was one recipe—a frosted brownie—that she posted back in 2011 that deserved a little (or rather, a lot) of attention—so it graces the cover of our forthcoming book, Food52 Baking. While you won't be able to look beyond its cover till September (well, we'll probably be sharing more—we're just too excited!), you can preorder the book in The Shop now. 

Don't be fooled, though: This brownie isn't just a pretty startlet; it tastes great and has a great story to boot. Here, ChefJune tells us how she landed on her Magic Espresso Brownies:


Brownies have always been a favorite food group in my family. They were among the first things I remember baking—plain chocolate brownies were my dad’s favorite! When I had a catering company, brownies in all flavors were an obvious inclusion on my dessert list. The base recipe is one a fellow teacher shared with me a long time ago. All my adaptations start with her recipe, including the one in Baking, Espresso Magic Brownies, which I thought up for a friend’s fundraiser. 

I prepared several serving plates of the brownies so everyone could reach them, and the first two plates we put out were swooped down upon like hawks after chickens. The plates emptied completely and quickly! Someone suggested maybe they had magical properties—hence the name of the brownies.

As you can see, these brownies are frosted. The recipe for the chocolate, Cognac, and espresso frosting is from my godmother, Annie Joe Dawson, who was also famous for her brownies and always frosted them with this really rich frosting.

Although I’m no longer catering and making brownies for clients, I still get lots of requests for brownies from my friends. I'll keep you posted on what brownie I dream up next.

Magic Espresso Brownies by ChefJune

Makes 24 large brownies or 36 smaller brownies

For the brownies:

3 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 cups toasted nuts, such as a mixture of pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts, chopped
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup Cognac
1/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom

Tags: brownies, chefjune, baking, food52 works, books, cookbooks, vegan, baking