Cocoa powder brownies

I know I claimed I wasn’t a chocoholic, but this is slowly becoming completely and totally false. When I go out to a restaurant and order dessert, my eyes open wide with anticipation when I see brownies on the menu. I. love. brownies. Who doesn’t?

In times of desperation, it’s hard to make them because most recipes require blocks of unsweetened chocolate which I don’t usually have on hand. But I always have cocoa powder. And given the fact that it snowed in Boston last night (in October?! for real, Mother Nature?) I had all of the ingredients I needed.

I worried that the brownies wouldn’t get enough of the usual intense chocolate flavor that they are known for, but somehow, I was in awe of how flour, eggs, sugar, butter and…cocoa powder can turn into something so magical. These do not sacrifice. I’m also a HUGE fan of boxed brownies, in the ancient days when I relied on cake and box mixes, and these have that similar desired chewy texture and hard crust that you just wanna break and dive right into headfirst.

I won’t tell anyone that you ate 4 of them last night, either, with sea salt, dulce de leche with your tiny spoon and an ice cold glass of milk. Who did that? Hey, it beats suffering in the snow.

Cocoa Powder Brownies

Adapted from Alice Medrich

Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

Notes: I love Alice Medrich’s cookbook that I got this recipe from, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. Medrich is a genius and knows what she is talking about. Highly recommended.


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional – I didn’t use them)


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″ x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

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 smooth and hot enough that you want to take out your finger quickly after touching it. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

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.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

  1. Debra Lynn

    October 28th, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    This sounds great! But you simply must try some Himalayan pink salt. I get mine from Sustainable Sourcing The flavor is so much better than regular salt! Thanks for sharing this recipe—I can’t wait to try it!

  2. thegrizzlykitchen

    October 30th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Hmm, you know, I have been itching to try some of that out. I might just have to get it now! I love salt on super sweet desserts or fruits like oranges or mangoes. I hope you like the recipe as much as me. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. The best brownies in the universe

    November 29th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    […] they are chocolate cake. Some are really great if you want to use unsweetened chocolate pieces. Others are made excellent with the use of humble cocoa powder. Ones that warrant 11 ounces of dark […]

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