I’m not sure why we have to classify all chocolate bars as brownies. It’s far too easy to clump all these recipes into one category when we should be differentiating. Why would
you we the world need another brownie recipe when Pinterest is clearing telling us that is already has 10,000 recipes for the “best ever brownie!”. And let’s agree we’re all chumps for the 2, 3 or 4-ingredient trick. Why would I make your brownie recipe when all I really need is nutella and eggs to make incredible, homemade brownies?
So let’s just agree these are not brownies. I think Chocolate-ly Boozy Mind Blown Espresso Bars is a more appropriate title and that is what we are calling them from now on.
I’ve already expressed my love for Food52 Baking and have since been combing the book for my next project. I immediately focused in on this recipe – it took the author 35 iterations to perfect it, it was the cover recipe which I figure you don’t do unless you feel strongly about it, and I trust these people. I’ve never had a go-to brownie recipe. I’ve never tried a friend’s and thought WOW, I need these in my life. I’ve also never understood the obsession with fudgy brownies. They mostly appeared to be too sweet versions of actual fudge, which if I had a choice, why wouldn’t I just make the fudge and eat that instead. But this recipe promised to be fudgy, cakey and chewy all at the same time so I thought sign me up (spoiler alert: they were).
After making the recipe once, I learned a few things. First, making brownies on a sheet pan is absolutely genius. The way I cut my brownies, the recipe made 40 and they were reasonably sized. You could even go smaller and make up to 70 brownies. In one recipe! That’s enough to take to work, to a friend’s house and still freeze the leftovers (or eat them all yourself throughout the week ?).
I loved almost everything, but thought they came out a bit too sweet. My tasters agreed – you’d bite into one and be a bit taken aback. The sugar overwhelmed the nutty chocolate-ness so in the next batch I made some adjustments. I increased the butter and decreased the eggs to keep them rich, then upped the cocoa and left out half of the chocolate chips to temper the sweetness. You’d take a bite and think, “oh she bought the expensive chocolate, these are good”, instead of “wow, so sweet!”.
From one Chocolate-ly Boozy Mind Blown Espresso Bar lover to another, here is the thirty sixth iteration of an already perfect recipe. Excuse me for second. I just finished a blog post, which means I deserve a treat, and that is treat is going to be another brownie. ?
- 3 cups (600 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1.5 cups (340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1½ cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (90 g) Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 2 cups (220 g) toasted nuts (I used pecans)
- 10 oz bag (284 g) semisweet chocolate (I used chunks, but chips would be better)
- 1¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar (the finer the better)
- 2 tablespoons espresso powder
- ¼ cup (60ml) Cognac
- ¼ cup (60ml) whole milk
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (170 g) semisweet chocolate
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan (13x18) with parchment and butter the sides if the parchment doesn't go to the edges.
- On medium-low speed mix the brown sugar and butter until well blended and lightly fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate completely, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Mix in vanilla and salt.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso, and nuts. Add to the sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated.
- Pour into the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
- Bake for 24 minutes. The batter will still be slightly soft in the middle but be springy and cooked around the edges. Wait for the brownies to cool to room temperature before frosting.
- To make the frosting, combine all the ingredients except for the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil one additional minute then remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and then season with a pinch of salt.
- Pour the frosting evenly over the brownies and spread with a spoon or spatula to evenly coat. When the frosting has set, cut into squares of desired size. I find it easiest to cut them after placing in the fridge or freezer for a couple minutes. Store in the fridge in between layers of parchment, for up to 3 days.