I’m adopting the term Pantry Simple to mean a recipe I won’t normally have to go shopping to make. And Cocoa Brownies will be the first entry.
Never have I said to myself, “Hey, Bill, let’s have brownies next Thursday.”
No, instead, brownies are always a spur of the moment treat. Usually a sudden-onset craving situation.
Most brownie recipes use some form of baking chocolate, unsweetened or bittersweet typically. I prefer cocoa brownies. One bowl, one pan, from idea to cooling rack in 30 minutes.
Start with a good cocoa. One you like. Brownies are highly personal and not all cocoa is created equal.
As you know, cocoa is made from roasted cacao beans. But that’s where the similarity ends. The difference, for example, between a Hershey’s and a Ghirardelli is pronounced. And those are both natural cocoas. Dutch Cocoa, one that’s been processed to lower it’s acidity, is a completely different animal. It’s generally darker than natural cocoa and usually a good deal milder.
The same brownie recipe (below) made with one instead of the other yields two very different pans of brownies. Most people will not believe the recipe is even the same one.
Both are good, they’re just different.
For the record, our kids will eat both just as enthusiastically.
I use pretty simple and standard ingredients. Like I said earlier, Pantry Simple.
Cocoa, all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, and salt.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8×8 baking dish. Use the wrapper from the stick of butter — it’s perfect for this. Otherwise, shortening or cooking spray works too.
Melt the butter. I use a non-metallic mixing bowl so I can take advantage of the microwave. About 45 seconds is all you need. You’re not trying to cook the butter, just melt it.
Then mix in the cocoa, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir it well. I normally use a rubber spatula.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix them in well.
And lastly stir in the flour. Don’t over mix it.
Spoon it into the baking dish.
Into the oven for 25 minutes.
Make sure a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If not, back into the oven for 5 for more minutes.
Let cool if you can. I know… no judging here.
Since it’s the holiday season, I dusted them with a bit of powdered sugar. Up to you. (I’m not a frosting on a brownie person, but hey, you do you.)
Pantry Simple Cocoa Brownies
Pantry Simple Cocoa Brownies are as good as you remember and perfectly suited to a spur of the moment sudden-onset chocolate craving. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter see note
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 cup sugar see note
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt see note
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
Melt the butter. (About 45 seconds in a standard microwave.)
Stir in cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
Stir in the eggs, one at a time.
Stir in the flour Do not over mix.
Pour evenly into the baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
Use a toothpick inserted near the center to test. If it doesn't come out clean then return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
If using salted butter, decrease the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
I like my desserts on the not-too-sweet side. If desired, add another 1/4 cup sugar.
If using table salt instead of kosher salt, cut the amount in half.