Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies
Cookies are undoubtedly the most baked item in my kitchen, but brownies clock in firmly at number two. So, its about time to start working through all the variations - fudgy, cakey, cocoa, chocolate, skillet, sheet, layered with cheesecake, swirled with nutella, and everything imaginable in between. I'll begin with what is essentially the brownified version of my go-to chocolate chip cookies, featuring ye olde chocolate chips + nuts combo.
In the world of brownies, the two words that I associate with this recipe are simple and balanced. Not a super dense slab of fudge, nor an airy chocolate cake. Not super sweet, nor pretentiously dark. A couple frilly little flavor and texture complications, but nothing too crazy to distract from the essential chocolatey sugar rush.
You've probably noticed the light-colored crinkle top on these brownies - that's the product of some vigorous whipping of egg whites and sugar. This step is absolutely essential to create that highly defined crispy outer layer, so make sure to read through the recipe before tossing everything into one bowl (and prepare your forearms if you're whisking by hand).
There's one more little oddity in this recipe - espresso powder. I picked this tip up from King Arthur Flour a few years ago and have since been throwing it into just about everything to enhance chocolate flavor (because chocolate is obviously not enhanced enough). The proper approach is really to dissolve the espresso powder in hot water before adding to the recipe but, as a great sage once said, ain't nobody got time for that.
Recipe makes 16 brownies (8x8" pan)
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 90g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 113g (4oz) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 115g (1/2c or 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 250g (1 & 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 90g (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 84g (3/4 cup) walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
- Line an 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper (leave enough overhang to remove later) and pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Sift flour and espresso powder (if using) into a mixing bowl. Add salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or microwave. If using a microwave, melt in 30 second intervals on medium power, stirring between cycles to distribute evenly.
- In another bowl, beat sugar and eggs with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy - about 4 minutes.
- Pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture, add vanilla and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Pour flour mixture into chocolate mixture and combine with a rubber spatula until no flour spots remain.
- Gently fold chocolate chips and nuts into mixture with spatula, setting some aside to sprinkle on top before baking, if desired.
- Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes back with moist crumbs. I recommend erring on the side of underbaking for this recipe.
- Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack to cool until brownies have set, about 10 minutes. Then, remove parchment-lined brownies from the pan to cool completely. Slice as desired and serve.
Prep-ahead tip: Brownies keep well in the freezer for one month and can be served frozen, refrigerated, or thawed to room temperature.