Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts


I am still in Arizona soaking up the desert sun. I saw in the extended forecast before I left and saw that it was supposed to rain out there this week. Boo! Let's hope not.

I made these brownies last week on the night I had the girls over to watch "The Bachelor". Upon seeing them, Kel asked if they were the same recipe our friend Caroline had made and posted on facebook a few days earlier. I said that they were and she immediately told me that she had already had these brownies and Caroline had made them for her and her Superbowl party just the night before. Double boo! It didn't stop her from eating them again though.

Caroline is a great baker. It's funny. One day I was over at Kel's when she didn't know me too incredibly well and she mentioned that I should bring some appetizer over to her house for a party she was having. Fair enough. I agreed. Then she added "Caroline will bring the dessert. She always does dessert because she is the best with sweet things." Um....hello? I know Kel was not trying to tell me that because Caroline was good with sweet it must mean that I was not. I was surprised that I had a reaction at all considering I don't have a competitive nature in the slightest. But the fact was that as far as all my friends were concerned, I was the resident baker slash desert person. I have a cake company for goodness sake. I meal plan a dinner party around desert. I found myself remembering a "Desperate Housewife" episode when well known baker Bree Van De Kamp has to shoot down the new neighbor on the block, Catherine when she offers to bring desert to some function they would all be at. Bree lets her know that she always does the desserts and she should just stick to the salad. Catherine defiantly brings desert and war is waged. I always laughed at that episode because I thought it was so arrogant and obnoxious. It is. But all of a sudden I was standing in Kel's kitchen and I was Catherine. Not Bree. And I have always been Bree in the cooking department. It sucks to be Catherine. She's not even on the show anymore...I digress. It's actually great because I love the fact that I have another friend who shares my passion.

Long story short...If both Caroline and I had the good sense to clip this recipe out of Bon Appetit last month and bake it, you should too. :) These brownies are fudgy in the middle and chewy on the outside with a shiny, crackly top. The browned butter adds a rich, nutty flavor.

What browned butter looks like:

Browned Butter

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

makes 9 squares

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil or wax paper, pressing firmly against the pan sides and leaving a 2-inch overhang (This is so you can remove the brownies from the pan after baking to get even slices. If you don't care about that, you can skip this step). Coat foil or pan with nonstick spray. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at the bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. I needed to bake mine longer, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil or wax paper overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 3 strips.Cut each strip crosswise into 3 brownies.

Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.


  1. These look amazing. I, too, am the Bree of my circle. My in-laws have always said that Bree is my twin, and I just started picking up reruns on lifetime during the kids naps. So far, she hid a murder and drinks too much. I am not sure I am complimented!! :)

  2. Ha ha! She's great but scandalous! By the way everyone, I've noticed that I used the word "desert" for "dessert" all through this post. Oops! Warm weather must have been on my mind! I tried to correct it on my phone but I couldn't. I'm not all that great at electronic things and besides I'm too busy with a margarita in one hand and a book in the other. I'm lying actually. The baby woke up early and the boys are golfing so I'm sitting on the couch watching zooboomafoo with Livy feeling slightly chilled from yesterday's sunburn. I'm having fun though and that's what matters!

  3.! Come on!!!! Let it go why don't ya! :) hahahahahahhaa.... You and CAROLINE should have a Bobby Flay Bake off!!!! I will be the judge!!!

  4. There is nothing more amazing looking than browned butter. Mmmmhh.

  5. These look amazing! And for the record, of all the foodies I read, YOU ARE BREE! Thanks for sharing this magical recipe with all of us!I will be passing it along to the world! You rock! I'll take some of these sent via the mail if you are so inclined...God knows that I am not the Mrs. Van de Kamp of any circle..I'll never do these suckers the justice they deserve:)LOL

  6. I laughed reading this! Haha. I bake because I don't cook as well. I'm ok, but not great. I've always said people are either cooks or bakers. I happen to be a baker. I think you are one of the rare people who do both well! :)