In the humble opinion of this chocolate-obsessed blogger, there is no better treat for morning, noon or evening snacking than a perfect little brownie. Or perfectly HUGE brownie, depending on the demands of my sweet tooth that day.
Over the years, I've tried just about every brownie recipe (and box mix) known to man. I've made them with baking chocolate, milk chocolate and chocolate syrup. I've stirred in nuts and chips and candy, topped them with glazes and icings and frostings. I've spread batters thin for a chewier result, and piled them high in the pan for a cake-like consistency. High heat, low heat and everything in between - I've done it all, but now I'm done. You see, I've finally achieved brownie Nirvana.
The following recipe is the result of meticulous testing and tasting and it incorporates elements from all my favorite brownie recipes. For instance, the addition of honey recalls a recipe for "Honey Bear" brownies that was a favorite of mine years ago. The sweet, sticky stuff keeps the brownies incredibly moist for days on end. My preference for cocoa powder as opposed to bar chocolate also goes back to my teenage years. I love the dark, earthy quality it lends to the end result, as well as a slightly more rustic texture in the crumb. Finally, the pan dimensions are key - you may even have to buy a pan especially for these brownies. Trust me, it's worth it. This formula makes for a thick, chewy, fudgy brownie that will also satisfy any cake-like brownie fans in the house.
Oh, and you'll also note there are no "stir-ins", as they're sometimes called, and that, my dears, is also by design. I like my brownies straight-up, but you can throw in some nuts or something if you must. They don't need 'em, though. In fact, all these little beauties need is a tall, cold glass of milk or a warm cup of coffee - morning, noon or night.
Lisa's Perfect Brownies
¾ cup best-quality cocoa powder
¼ cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
1 2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11 x 7" baking pan by lining with a double-thickness of aluminum foil (or single layer of heavy-duty foil) and then spray with neutral flavored non-stick spray.
Combine cocoa powder, vegetable oil and butter in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar and honey. Add eggs, vanilla and salt and, again, whisk until smooth. Add flour all at once, and using a wooden spoon or large spatula, stir only until just combined. In fact, a few threads of flour running through the batter are fine - they'll find their way when you put the batter in the pan. I repeat: don't overbeat.
Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a pick or paring knife inserted in the center of the pan comes out with just a wee bit of fudgy crumbs. Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting. (Here's a tip: If you're serving these at a party or just want them to look perfect, cool the pan completely and then refrigerate for a few hours. You can then cut the brownies into neat squares with no mess. Allow them to return to room temperature before serving, or just eat them cold - that's how I like 'em.)