This is adapted from Alice Medrich's brilliant Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (from Bon Appetit). I've removed a bit of the sugar, turned them into cupcakes, and inserted an ooey gooey melted chocolate center. I undercook them. Big time. They are a bit more elegant than your average brownie. They freeze beautifully so you can bust out a fancy dessert anytime by throwing one into a 325° F oven for 15 minutes and topping it with ice cream. —Phyllis Grant
1 1/4 cups
unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 1/4 cups
1 1/2 cups
unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
Preheat oven to 325° F. Generously butter and flour your cupcake pan (using a non-stick cupcake pan is ideal.) Set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Don't walk away. Swirl it around until it starts to brown. It will smell nutty and you'll see little brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the sugar, cocoa, vanilla, water, and salt. Cool for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. It will get all shiny and beautiful. At this point, add the flour. Now mix the heck out of it for about a minute (Alice says about 60 strokes). Stir in walnuts.
Spoon batter into cupcake pan (fill almost up to the top edge because they barely rise). Press chocolate chips down into the center of each cupcake (as much or as little as you like). Bake until the edges are set and middle is still a bit gooey. This takes around 15 minutes. It's a bit hard to tell when they're done because of the melted chocolate. If you need to, take the pan out and just take a peek inside with a paring knife.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan (the chocolate chips make them a bit fragile, so be careful). Serve right away with vanilla ice cream. Store at room temperature in a Ziploc bag for up to 3 days. Or freeze for a few months. Just pop them in a warm oven for 15 minutes or so before serving to awaken the gooey center.