Make Ahead

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies

June 20, 2021
4.4 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies
Author Notes

This recipe is one part of a master brownie recipe Medrich designed to use whatever chocolate you have in the house -- but the best version happens to be the one that only requires cocoa powder. By taking out the chocolate, with its inevitable fat and almost-inevitable sugar, Medrich was able to control and fine-tune the proportions of both. When she added back in the fat (via butter), the middles stayed softer. When she added back in granulated sugar, the crusts were shinier and more candy-like. Any cocoa will work, but natural (not Dutch process) will taste more richly of chocolate. Recipe adapted slightly from Bittersweet (Artisan, 2003) —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 140 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour (unsifted, measured by stirring briefly, spooning into the measuring cup until it's heaped above the rim, then leveling it with a straight-edged knife or spatula -- it should weigh nearly 2.5 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup (65 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. (It might look gritty here but don't worry, it will smooth out later.) Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
  3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

237 Reviews

Messicobb July 26, 2022
I've never had a better brownie. 🥰
Shacia September 13, 2021
I have made these 3 times and theyre absolutely wonderful each time!
fvngtrntl May 31, 2021
I shortcut the hell out of this recipe! Just melt the butter, add the sugar and remainder of wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and combine in the same bowl. The brownies turn out perfectly every time! I have made it the traditional way once and have used the shortcut method ever since. Saves time and labor :)
Kristin May 31, 2021
That’s what I do too. Comes out perfect every time.
T March 6, 2021
I lessened the sugar to 180g and butter to one stick (around 110g) +7 min bake and it came out perfectly! A bit hard to stay in shape while taking out but super dense and perfect richness that it feels like a rich chocolate cake... :)
Alison October 31, 2020
I should have paid a little closer attention to the descriptions other bakers provided, but I was looking for a cocoa-based brownie recipe, and the reviews were glowing.... On the plus side, they are very chocolatey. However, although I made these according to the recipe, measured by weight, I found them way too dense and heavy. I read once that there is a great divide among brownie lovers--the people who like them to be intensely fudge-like, and the people who like them more cakey (these would be my people). So, if you are looking for VERY fudgy brownies, I assume these would hit the spot. If not, I'd recommend looking elsewhere or modifying the recipe slightly.
Dizzy R. July 2, 2020
i made these today - used browned butter, reduced the sugar to almost 3/4 cup & baked for about 20 mins. they weren’t as shiny as i’dve hoped but they were chewy and had a chocolatey bitter taste i prefer! i will try to make these again to try to get a better shine on them.
Selina June 6, 2020
These were such a lovely sweet to make! The transformation from grainy meltedness into the gooey brownie batter was sooo satisfying, almost as satisfying as eating them. I was rushed and didn't try anything fancy with this recipe and it was still exceptional. Plus, using just a wooden spoon and a bowl is always a win. Thank you for this jem!
Darcy A. June 5, 2020
If you have a SERIOUS sweet tooth this is probably the recipe for you. 250g of sugar for me and my family’s tastes however is too much. I tweaked recipe and used 210g instead and found a little too much on the sweet side... will try less next time around. 22 minutes was the golden cooking time for ooey gooey deliciousness.
witloof May 26, 2020
These were shiny on top and dense, fudgy and delicious. I used Scharffenberger cocoa powder and added a tablespoon of instant espresso and a shot of chocolate extract to the batter. Big payoff for a one bowl operation! I think these will be my new go to brownie.
chloedan May 3, 2020
Liked not loved. Very dense and thick- more than expected. But also filling. Cooked for 28 minutes. Will probably do for 26 next time. I still love the basic Mark Bittman brownie recipe.
Lauren May 1, 2020
Delicious!! I made a few tweaks: used 2 T espresso instead of the additional cocoa powder, and added 1/4 t cinnamon. Like others, I also had to bake for about 10 extra minutes (but I also live at 7,800' so that could be part of it too). They came out super fudgy and amazing!
Jean F. April 20, 2020
This recipe made a delicious brownie using an organic dutch process cocoa by NuNaturals. This will be a go to dessert.
Jessica K. April 15, 2020
These brownies are my go-to's, they are great and come together fairly easily. I do find, as others mentioned, I need to bake them for about 10 minutes longer than suggested.
[email protected] March 28, 2020
These were the best brownies ever. Why anyone would use a box mix I don't know. These are easy to make, moist and so delicious. I did find they took about 8-10 more minutes to cook. I used Droste Cocoa Powder, Dutch process.
Jennifer V. March 23, 2020
Not worth the trouble. Unclear to me why anyone would make this version over tried and true ones. Not sweet enough. decent texture-if you make sure to whip in the eggs to get some lift, but just has a one note chocolate flavor. Don't make this. you'll be disappointed.
Kristin January 23, 2020
These are fantastic, fast and easy to make. Mine needed a couple more minutes in the oven. Great recipe!
zoom9951 January 18, 2020
I modified this recipe to use low calorie whipped cream cheese instead of butter and a monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar. It came out great! I got 9 very large servings at 100 calories a piece. Highly recommend this recipe.
Nancy K. December 5, 2019
I’ve been making this for decades; it’s basically the Cuisinart recipe with vanilla added. I reduce the cooking time by about five minutes to emphasize the fudge aspect.
constance September 26, 2019
same as smitten kitten cocoa brownie - my go-to and favorite recipe!
Mary March 29, 2019
My new favorite brownie recipe. It’s a true cross between brownies and fudge. They are addictive. Make sure you use parchment paper nd press intoplacewell because the batter doesn’t flatten much during baking. Bits of chocalatey heaven.