Make Ahead

Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies

February 11, 2014
14 Ratings
  • Makes 12 cupcakes
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 eggs, chilled
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups walnuts, chopped finely
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Generously butter and flour your cupcake pan (using a non-stick cupcake pan is ideal.) Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SophieL
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    Marale Garabetian
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    Janet's Kitchen Lab
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  • Mona Yaeger
    Mona Yaeger
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.

63 Reviews

SophieL February 9, 2021
I made these for Valentine gifts and they're decadently rich and chocolate-y. I used Valentine cupcake liners which added a festive decorative touch and guaranteed easy removal from the baking tin. Instead of chocolate chips I topped each cupcake with chocolate sprinkles. Baking for 15 minutes was not long enough; ended up baking them 20 minutes and the centers were still gooey. I got 17 cupcakes; recipients will love these!
Shoshana February 1, 2021
Saw this recipe and I'm very interested in making it! I'm concerned about the sugar though - as written, it says the recipe calls for 2 1/4 CUPS of sugar! The original BA recipe you mentioned adapting this from only calls for 1 1/4 cups, but you said in your notes that you removed some of the sugar. Can you help me understand?! I wouldn't want to botch a whole batch with a measuring mistake! Thank you!
Phyllis G. February 1, 2021
Hello Shoshana. My adaptation is double the original recipe. The amount of sugar is correct. I haven't made this in a few years but I do remember loving it as did my family. It is sweet but not overly so, especially if you use bittersweet chocolate chips in the middles. Let me know how it goes!
Shoshana February 1, 2021
Thanks so much, I definitely will!
Shoshana February 9, 2021
I made these using the amounts in the recipe and they came our fantastically! Maybe more like chocolate lava cakes than brownies, but still delicious. I ended up baking them for 25 minutes for them to be set enough and the centers were still gooey and fantastic. I froze some and reheated later at 300 for 15 minutes and they were just as good as fresh!
hellspantry September 19, 2018
These were rich, dense, and delicious. 15 minutes was far too short for me, and I ended up doubling the cooking time to be able to remove them from the tin. The chocolate chips were overkill to me, but the walnuts were a must to cut the sweetness. I used Valrhona cocoa, which I think helped because the recipe is very cocoa heavy. Top with flaked sea salt to cut the sweetness.
Marale G. February 23, 2017
HI, to chill the eggs, how long do you keep them in the freezer? Or do you just mean cold eggs straight from the fridge?
Phyllis G. February 23, 2017
just straight from the fridge.
anusha July 24, 2016
I have made these in mini muffin tins a couple of times and they are perfect, and now I want to try in maybe a 13x9 or something similar. Would this be okay? How long would I bake it for to make sure it bakes evenly?
Melanie January 20, 2016
These sound divine! I want to make them this weekend. If I were to use my mini muffin pan, how long should I bake them for? Thanks for the advice!
Phyllis G. January 20, 2016
maybe peek after 7 minutes?
Davinica N. January 20, 2016
I bought the Baking cookbook and couldn't wait to try these! My end product had a much denser consistency, more like flourless chocolate torte. Any ideas as to why this happened? (They still were an absolute hit! I had to hide the rest of the batch from my boyfriend)
Davinica N. January 20, 2016
Also the top never flaked like brownies do, it was more like a muffin.
Phyllis G. January 20, 2016
They are so rich and so dense. Sounds about right! And it's true that they don't have that flakey top that some brownies do. What I love is when the melted chocolate chips poke out the top a bit.
Davinica N. January 21, 2016
Just wanted to make sure I'm making them right! They're amazing! So easy to make and perfectly decadent for a sophisticated meal!
Alex October 14, 2015
This was one of the best desserts I've ever made. So impressive, yet convenient and I pretty much always have these ingredients on hand.
Rocthadoc February 3, 2015
Omg! Fantastic. I mixed both chocolate and peanut butter chips for the center. Deelish! Thanks again
Phyllis G. January 20, 2016
i love peanut butter chips. great idea!
Irwin January 21, 2015
Everyone loved these! After reading the comments, I cooked them in cupcake liners and they definitely were not cooked after 15 minutes, more like 22 minutes.
kelsey June 13, 2014
Phyllis - I can't say enough how much I love your choc chip cookie recipe. It has made a non-baker into a baking lover! I want to try this recipe next. Two questions: do you butter and flour your nonstick pans? And, what is the trick/measurement for powdered sugar on top of the brownies like I see in your photos? Thanks!
supersuz May 3, 2014
This recipe did not work at all. The butter fully separated and it never cooked. Total disappointment
Phyllis G. May 4, 2014
such a bummer! would love to help. so you're saying that the butter separated from the rest of the batter? would love some details and then maybe we can figure it out.
supersuz January 20, 2016
Hi, yes, the butter never mixed in with the batter and there was pools of butter when I poured it into the baking dish.
Janet's K. April 6, 2014
Just made this afternoon, greased and floured enough but didn't come out smoothly except one. I used muffin pan. I skipped the nuts. not sure what went wrong. they tasted great though. I spooned them to muffin cases for freezing.
Janet's K. April 6, 2014
i think i will try a higher oven temp. I normally use glass ramekins for molten chocolate cake, more visible and easier to control the doneness. Maybe I will give another go. I think it's to do with the oven temp.
Laurie April 20, 2014
Only use nonstick cupcake pans and then liberally butter and flour. Made two sets and the nonstick pan was great. The older pan was a disaster!!
Can I refrigerate this batter over night?
Phyllis G. April 2, 2014
i don't know. never tried that. might be fine since there is not baking soda or baking powder. but i'm just not sure. another option would be to bake them halfway and then finish baking them when you want to eat them.
Mona Y. February 17, 2014
Dashandbella & Chandra: I did follow those directions. Maybe I didn't grease & flour the pan AS WELL. I will make sure to over do it with the next batch.
Brussels S. February 16, 2014
I made these for Valentine's Day this past weekend for a sweet treat. What an amazing recipe. I skipped the nuts, but added a tsp of instant espresso. Thanks for sharing!
Phyllis G. May 4, 2014
love the addition of instant espresso.
OnionThief February 16, 2014
I made with no nuts or chocolate chips. Baked in silicone liners and they peeled right out. Ridiculously good. And I made 3 batches, so I may have committed this to memory. Thanks for making me look like a genius.
Phyllis G. May 4, 2014
CheffieEmily February 15, 2014
Thank you! I've had a hankering for a decadent chocolate cake, these do sound incredible
Phyllis G. February 15, 2014
fold the chocolate chips into the batter. then divide into 2 pans. undercook it for sure so it's super moist. let me know if you do it! what about whipped cream in between the layers. and another layer of whipped cream on top. grate chocolate all over the top. would have to eat right away though with whipped cream. so maybe just go all out and do your italian buttercream.
CheffieEmily February 15, 2014
Would this stand up to being turned into a layer cake with buttcream, or my personal favorite italian buttercream? I will settle for cupcakes lol. I just think this would make a lovely birthday cake. For me. Yes i make my own birthday cake
Phyllis G. February 15, 2014
i think it's a bit dense for a layer cake. i would recommend a lighter one. i'm sure there's a fabulous chocolate layer somewhere on food52. can anyone help emily? having said that, i love these brownie cupcakes so much that i would be happy eating them in any form. so you could just go for it. but maybe with whipped cream. i fear buttercream would just make it too rich. happy birthday!
Mona Y. February 15, 2014
These were amazing for Valentine's Day. However, I had a really hard time getting them out of the cupcake tin. They fell apart. The suger amount is crazy! But once again so good. I'm going to use cupcake papers and will grease the pan. They should be a hit for an upcoming Oscar party.
Chandra F. February 15, 2014
Did you grease and flour the tins well? Mine came out well doing that and also running a jnife around each cupcake. Simeone else used cupcake papers and reported sticking.
Phyllis G. February 15, 2014
make sure you don't press the chocolate chips too far down. try to get them right in the middle. did you let them cool? yes to running a knife along the edges. and another trick is to swipe the bottom of the cupcake pan over the flame on the stove for a few seconds. this can help loosen them up before you pop them out.