This may be it - a brownie recipe worthy of all that incessant and absurd 'death by chocolate' prattle. Yes, as much as I dislike the trite phrase, I have to admit, when I took the first (and second, and third) bite of these brownies the thought "whoa. death by chocolate" was the inane sentiment that went looping through my mind. Apparently, these fudgy bon bons are so densely compacted with the mesmerizing dark substance that they overload neurotransmitters and stupefy the verbal cortex.
The blame for my chocolate-induced brain cell death goes to Miss Alice in the kitchen. That would be Alice, as in, Alice Medrich, who devised this jaw-dropping recipe, and who is often hailed as the "Queen of Chocolate" by foodie types. After this result, I am convinced that her unconventional recipes are sheer baking genius.
In fact, this Alice Medrich brownie recipe may just replace my *other* Alice Medrich brownie recipe with its magical freezer technique since this one only requires cocoa. I know, I know, *scary* how they possibly be good enough without melted chocolate?? But trust Alice and her scant cup of cocoa. I dare you. Especially if you're one of those types who declares you'd fancy a death by chocolate.
Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies
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)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the 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 remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. 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 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.
* Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan