Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

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There is a bit of an ongoing debate across the internet baking communities as to whether brownies should be made with melted chocolate, cocoa powder, or some combination of both. While I won’t go quite so far as to say I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like, I will say that, as long as each is executed well, there is room for all three types of brownie recipe in my heart and I firmly believe that it is a good idea to have a basic version of each of the three types in your repertoire. This recipe is my basic version of the cocoa based brownie recipe

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies, plated with a glass of milk

There are some things I want to note before getting to the recipe – and these are more general brownie notes than they are specific to this particular recipe, but you will want to employ them here to get the best possible brownie results.

  • I’m sure no one is surprised that the dominant flavor in brownies is chocolate. Make sure you are using a chocolate (whether bar, chip or powder) that you love because that exactly the flavor you are going to get after baking.
  • If you are as much in love with that stereotypical, shiny, crinkly crust on top of your brownies as I am, pay attention to the preparations methods used. The key to that crust is a high sugar ratio and making sure that sugar gets dissolved during the batter preparation.
    • Here is an example of what happens when the sugar does not get properly dissolved. You can see that the crust on top of the brownie is full of tiny holes, dull, and nearly the same color as the brownie:
      Fudgy Cocoa Brownie - top crust shows improperly dissolved sugar.
    • While this is what it looks like when the sugar does get properly dissolved. The crust on top of this brownie is significantly paler than the rest of the brownie, has a sheen and a crackly finish:
      Fudgy Cocoa Brownie - top crust shows properly dissolved sugar
  • Do not bake your brownies in a glass baking pan or in a dark, non-stick baking pan. You will want an aluminum cake pan of the appropriate size for the recipe you are baking.
    • Glass tends to heat unevenly and actually provides some insulating properties which means you need a longer baking time. Baking in a glass baking dish will often result in dry, over done edges and underdone centers for brownies.
    • The dark, non-stick metal baking pans often heat faster and hotter than the aluminum cake pans which can lead to issues similar to the glass baking pan (although for different reasons). The edges will likely be overdone, very crisp, possibly even heading toward burnt while the center remains underdone.
  • And finally, do not over-bake your brownies. If anything, err on the side of underbaking a brownie. This is not the time for a toothpick test, if a toothpick comes out clean the brownies are definitely over done. You are looking for a dry top with the distinctive crust, a surface that is a bit puffed up, particularly at the edges, and for the brownies to be set, meaning that if you gently shake the pan you are not seeing it wiggling like raw batter is under the crust (keep in mind that fillings and swirls will increase baking times and make it more difficult to determine if the brownies are set)

Armed with this knowledge, go forth, make brownies and, above all, enjoy!

Fudgy Cocoa Brownie stack

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bar, brownie, chocolate, chocolate chip, cocoa, fudgy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 24 brownie


  • Baking pan 13" x 9"
  • 2 bowls 1 small and 1 medium
  • whisks
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons


  • 1 cup flour all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter unsalted
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks or chips (or favorite brownie mix-in)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13×9 inch baking pan with non-stick foil.
  • Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a small bowl until uniform in color and set aside.
    1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Place the butter and espresso powder in a medium, microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave until the butter is melted and hot.
    1 cup butter, 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Immediately, whisk both sugars into the hot butter and continue whisking until mostly dissolved.
    1 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.
    4 eggs, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated, do not overmix.
  • Stir in chocolate chunks or chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
    1 cup chocolate chunks or chips
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until just set with a distinct crust on top. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  • Cut the brownies into 24 – 2 x 2 inch squares and serve, store leftovers in an air tight container.

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