Black Cocoa Brownie Wedges

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. After much hassle, oh-crap moments, and a lot of butterflies, I purchased my first official domain name. Hittin’ the big time, baybay! Okay, not really. But it’s still exciting. Fleur d’Elise had a good run, but I was bummed that no one knew how to pronounce it, I had to spell it without the “d” in the URL because some person in Europe already had and posted one time three years ago so now I can’t have it, and it just didn’t feel kitchen-y enough.

So…new look, same great taste!  (Still working on that banner!)

I haven’t been baking nearly as much as I’d like on account of other, really cute, really furry, really slobbery things in my life.

This is Kona, Dutch Shepherd extraordinaire and the new love of my life. He barely trails behind a certain chiseled police officer and these black cocoa brownies. That, I think, is saying quite a bit. Sure, his ears look like satellite dishes, and, when you glance in the rearview mirror of the car, your first instinct is to panic at the gremlin staring back at you, but he’s a good kid, and we’re completely stoked to start our next adventure with him.

Now about this black cocoa – if you’ve never heard of it in your life, don’t be ashamed, dear friend. Just two weeks ago I was completely ignorant of this magical substance, confusing it with dark cocoa powder and shucking it off as another unneeded baking supply. Do not let this be you, I beg you. This cocoa powder is other-worldly, a taste never before experienced, it’s coal-dark color only outdone by its euphoric chocolate flavor – I can’t even explain.

Here’s the catch: moderation. I’ve never been good at that sort of thing, I’m the type of person who eats fifteen mini-Snickers bars because in my mind that’s better than eating one whole bar. Rational, that’s me. This cocoa is super Dutch-processed, and its flavor is intense, baby. The second date kisses intense. Double overtime, next point wins intense. So you have to use it in small doses with regular Dutch-process cocoa and have mercy – what a difference a dose makes.

I’m not convinced that brownies must be made with blocks of melted chocolate that must be chopped into dust and then you’re sweating bullets because your knife is dull, not when cocoa brownies pack the same chocolaty punch with a whole lot less work. For these brownies, I measured out the regular dark cocoa, scooped a bit out, then filled it back up with black cocoa. When I first opened the bag, I didn’t think it looked all that dark, but next to regular dark cocoa in the bowl, it was impressively dark. Bewitching, even.

But it’s not just the chocolate that had my knees buckling beneath my twig legs, oh no. The butter. The browned butter. I have a tendency to take the butter just over the edge (and by “just over” I mean “violently shoved”) and it ends up charring the milk solids to the bottom of the pan, but I practiced some restraint this time. You melt the butter until it bubbles up, settles down, and no longer. With three sticks of the creamy, melty goodness packed into one nine-inch pan, you can’t miss it. It’s toasty, nutty, absolutely incredible against the dark chocolate with a slightly salty edge after you lick your lips

I think I owe Justin an apology for always knocking dark chocolate in favor of milk, I’ve usually found it to be unforgivably bitter and chalky against my teeth, but this? This changes things.

Maybe I’ll skip the apology in favor of the puppy. Who could resist?

I used King Arthur Flour’s Black Cocoa, they are the nicest people to work with and heck, they answer the phone on the first ring! I haven’t seen black cocoa in the regular grocery store, but I promise this will be the best ten bucks you ever spent. An added two-three tablespoons of black cocoa to your regular Dutch-process cocoa will change. your. life.

Also, I’ve read some here and there’s regarding the reduced fat content in black cocoa and how it can dry out your product, I had perfectly moist, fudgy brownies, but it could be a different story for cake. Then again, I don’t see how two tablespoons of cocoa could have that much of an adverse effect, but I’m a risk taker.

Black Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Brownie Points, by Lisa Slater

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • Scant 1/2 cup best quality cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons black cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon very strong coffee
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or fleur de sel

Steps :

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan, fit with a circle of parchment, and butter the parchment.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it bubbles and browns. It will froth and then settle down, with the milk solids settling to the bottom. Be sure not to burn the butter a la Brittany.
  3. Remove from the heat, cool slightly (about 5 minutes) and add the cocoa powders. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the sugar, whisk until smooth, then cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, whisking until smooth and shiny until just combined. (Avoid overmixing as this will lead to cakey brownies, and hey – if you want cake, make a cake!)
  6. Stir in the vanilla and coffee or espresso powder, then stir in the flour and salt, mixing until just combined and no further. Resist the urge to keep mixing! Flecks of flour showing are okay.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs stuck to it (check it after 30 minutes, then go from there).
  8. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate. Remove from the pan and onto a cutting board, slice into wedges. Brownies will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, but they’ll never last that long.

Catch 22: Their fudgy texture is best straight from the fridge, but the full depth of toasty butter, smoky chocolate, and that salty edge can only be found at room temperature. Choose wisely, grasshopper.


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