Since this IS a brownie recipe, after all, the single most important ingredient is the chocolate you use. I have my personal favorites, but realizing that there are a wide variety of tastes, budgets and availability, I will leave it up to the baker to decide. According to Cook’s Illustrated, Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet is the best dark chocolate. But you may find that you prefer Scharffen Berger, Valhrona or Recchiutti. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they sell an excellent dark product in a monster 1lb size bar. I have used Bakers brand chunks & Nestle Toll House chips, though I don’t recommend either for this recipe, as they change the consistency for some reason.
I include nuts because you are what you eat, and I love nuts… I’ve also made this recipe many times with cacao nibs, which are becoming more available.
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tbls butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbls vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 Tbls instant espresso powder
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 c flour, unsifted
1 c nuts or cacao nibs (optional)
Place your oven rack in the middle to lower 1/3 of your oven and preheat to 325
Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with either butter and dust using unsweetened cocoa powder OR parchment paper. You really want to prep your pan well, this recipe is quite sticky.
Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate & butter, over low heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve lumps.
Add the powdered espresso and stir until completely dissolved.
Stir in vanilla, salt, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and sugar.
Add eggs one at a time, stirring till fully mixed in.
Add the flour and stir very vigorously. The time to do this depends on the stirrer, as it is a bit of a workout. You want to get the batter to a point where it is very glossy and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Stir in the nuts or nibs and pour into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes and check doneness using a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out with batter on it, bake 10 minutes longer.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
These are delicious served warm with a good vanilla ice cream.