Make Ahead

Magic Espresso Brownies

April 20, 2011
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 27 minutes
  • Makes about 70 1-inch square brownies
Author Notes

I've been baking brownies for more years than I care to remember. For a very long time I have used the same basic recipe, varying the ingredients to create interesting and delicious treats. Herewith is the 35th incarnation of my brownie recipe.

Yes, this is a large recipe, but it halves well, and you can always freeze the leftovers (if there are any)! —ChefJune

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. For the brownies:
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 13- by 18-inch half-sheet pan.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, mix the brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until well blended but not too fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and nuts. Pour into the sugar mixture and mix on low speed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and add the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 23 1/2 minutes (assuming your oven is calibrated properly). The batter will still be soft in the middle of the pan. Allow the brownies to cool thoroughly before frosting.
  1. For the frosting:
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil, then for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat, add the chocolate chips, and stir until smooth. Pour the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies. When the frosting has set, cut brownies into squares of the desired size. Store the brownies in the refrigerator, separating the layers with parchment paper, for up to 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Olivia Shasho
    Olivia Shasho
  • Gloria Garcia
    Gloria Garcia
  • Kim Palmer Berry
    Kim Palmer Berry
  • ChefJune
  • Beth Taylor
    Beth Taylor
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

37 Reviews

Kim B. February 3, 2024
Can you replace butter with brown butter?
Olivia S. August 8, 2020
I made these the first time last year for a halloween party and was shocked at how incredible they are. I follow the recipe exactly and they come out perfectly every time! I will say, as the batter is coming together it doesn't look like a brownie batter and its scary, but trust the recipe!
Jonny October 10, 2017
Hi June, I just made these brownies from the cook book. When I took them out of the oven the centre was still fairly liquid and didn't seem to set after cooling for awhile. I put them back into the oven for another 15 mins. After they cooled the did set however the next day when I cut into them they were still very runny. I had to refrigerate them to help them keep their shape. Is this the consistency I should have been expecting? Do you have any suggestions? I cooked them as directed except replaced semi sweet with dark chocolate chips. Thanks! (regardless of consistency they were still amazing!)
ChefJune October 10, 2017
Hi Jonny: Sounds to me like your oven temp is off. Have you had it calibrated lately? You can check it with an oven thermometer that hangs from a rack in the oven.
I had that problem once years ago, when it took me nearly 3 hours to bake a pan of brownies. (YIKES!)
And to answer your question: No. They should not be runny.
Joelle B. November 25, 2018
Same happened to me. Completely liquid middle despite extra 10 minutes. I knew something was wrong b/c it was too take 23.5 minutes. I misread the pan size. 13x18 inches (I used 9x13!). I am going to make a half recipe next time and use my 9x13 pan for success
ChefJune December 3, 2018
Good idea.
Jonny October 17, 2020
Hi Joelle B.,
Did the half recipe work in the 9" x 13" pan?
Joelle B. October 17, 2020
I never made them again. But I do trust a half recipe would have been perfect in the smaller pan
Joelle B. October 17, 2020
Actually, I think I did make it. So long ago. I forgot. They were a hit!
Gloria G. June 30, 2016
Can I leave the walnuts out without hurting the consistency of the brownies?
ChefJune June 30, 2016
You absolutely can! No problem whatsoever.
Kim P. October 4, 2015
Hi June, I made them today from the cookbook and everyone raved about them. I was all EIGHT eggs! I was an idiot in that I didn't follow your instruction to sprinkle to choc chips over the top but mixed them in so they all sank to the bottom but no-one cared, they were delicious!
ChefJune October 4, 2015
Glad you liked them. I always swirl add-ins to brownies because it distributes them through the batter better.
ChefJune September 16, 2015
Beth, I always swirl them in.
Beth T. September 16, 2015
Once the batter is in the pan, you add chocolate chips. Are they to be sprinkled evenly over top of the batter as opposed to being swirled or folded in? I know it's a shallow pan, so I'm thinking they should sit on top. I'm a Katharine Hepburn brownie-maker from way back, but I've got to try this one! :-)
ChefJune August 17, 2015
So glad it worked out for you, Josephine. Recipes are meant to be played with, imho. Whatever you like is what it should be.
Josephine August 17, 2015
I decided to keep the espresso flavor only in the frosting so as to have a distinct taste between brownies and frosting. To do so, I made the brownies according to the recipe except I omitted the espresso powder. For the frosting, I substituted real, brewed espresso for the milk and brandy and again omitted the espresso powder. This resulted in chocolatey nutty brownies with a rich espresso flavored frosting--a hit!
jenny August 15, 2015
I made these exactly following the recipe... they are pretty yum but i could barely make out either the coffee or the brandy - if I made them again I would double the quantities of each! They have an interesting light texture, not like the brownies I am familiar with (fudgey), instead they are quite light... in fact, like a mousse cake. But rich and chocolatey. Yum, but not 'espresso brownies'!!
Joelle B. November 25, 2018
I used Starbucks pike place powder. Very coffee tasting
ChefJune November 27, 2018
Personally, I wouldn't use a Starbucks product as I find them to have a burned flavor.
Josephine August 9, 2015
Is there any other flavoring that can be used instead of the instant espresso?
ChefJune August 10, 2015
You could omit the espresso in both the brownies and the frosting without harming the recipe, but if you take it out, you will have plain brownies.
Maryanne July 25, 2015
Can I substitute anything for the cognac?
ChefJune July 26, 2015
You could use coffee.
ChefJune July 23, 2015
Yes, Effie, it really is 3 cups of sugar. You are using a half-sheet pan, which holds twice the amount of batter as a 9 x 13 pan, 3 times the amount of an 8 x 8. So 3 cups is not overkill here. Believe me, I have reduced the amount of sugar in all my recipes over the years, and find they taste much better.
Effie K. July 23, 2015
Looks amazing! Is it really 3 cups of sugar?
ChefJune July 22, 2015
Diana Vanessa D: I'd go with a 9 x 9.
Diana V. July 22, 2015
When cutting the recipe in half, what size pan would be appropriate?
Chris August 1, 2014
What size pan?
lapadia June 10, 2013
Ahhhh...a trip with magic brownies!
Madame S. June 20, 2011
We use eggs from our chicken, so they aren't always large. Should I still use 8 eggs or should I use more? I would say they are med to large sized.
ChefJune June 20, 2011
I would eyeball it, and if you thnk you need an extra egg (or two) go ahead. Brownies are very forgiving.
Sagegreen April 20, 2011
These do look beautiful.