I suspect you've never eaten a brownie and thought, "Hmm, there's too much chocolate in here."
That's the point of a brownie, right? A delectable, indulgent, classic Chocolate Delivery Vehicle, or CDV.* (*Trademark pending).
That pure chocolate flavor is the defining characteristic of these gluten-free brownies from cookbook author Anne Byrn, whose new "American Cookie" book includes a neat collection of treats from throughout the country's history and geography. This recipe includes what sounds like an insufficient 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, but it works. Without a ton of flour to dilute its strength - and with a robust amount of brown sugar, which helps boost the fudgy flavor and texture - all you taste is chocolate.
A handful of chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) is another gear in the CDV. Expect the chocolate chips to sink in the batter, which is why the foil sling is so important. The first time I made these brownies, I followed the instructions to use a the greased but unlined pan, and while it was hard to beat the crunchy, caramelized bits at the bottom, I couldn't get the brownies out without basically destroying them. For more texture and flavor, you can sprinkle finely chopped nuts on top before baking.
If you like the choose-your-own-adventure route, bake the brownies to the consistency you prefer. At the lower end of the baking-time range (25 minutes), they are gooey and reminiscent of a molten lava cake. A few minutes longer in the oven and their crumb is more like a chewy brownie.
Make Ahead: The brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. For long-term cold storage, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze, for up to 6 months.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (may substitute chopped chocolate)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Press a long piece of aluminum foil into an 8-inch-square pan to create a sling, leaving several inches of overhang on two opposite sides so you can use it to pull the baked-brownie slab out of the pan. Grease the foil with cooking oil spray.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder until thoroughly smooth and well incorporated.
Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract, until smooth. Break the eggs into the saucepan, stirring until well incorporated. Add the cornstarch and salt, stirring until smooth, then fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly into the corners.
Bake (middle rack) for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges of the brownies are firm, the top is shiny and the center is just set. Let cool (in the pan) on a wire rack for 1 hour.
For easier slicing, you may then chill the brownie slab in the freezer for up to 1 hour. Use the foil sling to lift out the brownie slab before cutting it into 16 pieces.
Adapted from "American Cookie," by Anne Byrn (Rodale Books, 2018).
Calories: 160; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 40 mg; Sodium: 85 mg; Carbohydrates: 20 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 16 g; Protein: 1 g.
This article was written by Becky Krystal, a reporter for The Washington Post.