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"Man-catcher" brownies

If you can get past the title, this was written up in the Washington Post last week and they're really good. It makes a thick fudgy brownie (with 3 sticks of butter and 6 eggs!) and is even better the next day. I've been on a brownie baking mission lately and these have been our favorite:


12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted (natural or Dutch process
)6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in saucepan, remove from heat and add cocoa (I used dutch process and it made them very dark and rich), cool slighty. Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla and add to chocolate mix. Gradually add flour and salt. Spread batter into 13x 9 pan (lined w/ parchment paper or aluminum foil) and buttered. Bake 40-45 minutes until crust forms on top.

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  1. Thanks for posting this!

    Mr. Dumptruck loves fudgy brownies. We received some very good news today, so I am making these now to celebrate!

    2 Replies
    1. re: marthadumptruck

      Congratulations on the good news. These are the thickest brownies I've ever made (outside cakey ones which I don't like as much). They actually taste better today than yesterday but I'm wondering if it's because I was inundated by the smell and all yesterday.

      1. re: chowser

        I just put them in the oven.

        The pan was heavy!

        Can't wait to see how they turn out.

    2. Do these form the shiny, crinkly crust on top, or the more crunchy, not-shiny crust? My man needs the shiny top to be a "real" brownie...so he says. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: wyf4lyf

        Very shiny top. The crust is beautiful the next day!

      2. Try the recipe on the wrapper of a big bar of Valrhona 70% cacao. It's all about the chocolate baby.

        1. I just put these in the oven. I used 1C of natural cocoa and 1C of Dutched. I should have made them yesterday so they had time to be their best today, but the best laid plans...
          However, seeing as there are only 3 of us in the house, this huge pan of brownies should last at least another day or 2. :)

          4 Replies
          1. re: wyf4lyf

            Did you use the full 2 tablespoons of vanilla? I was looking over the recipe (debating whether to make it and gourge) and noticed that the vanilla seemed like it was in an unusually large quantity. Having wrecked a perfectly great recipe in the past that accidentally had put 1 tablespoon of vanilla instead of 1 teaspoon, I am especially weary. Thanks!

            1. re: Laura D.

              I'm heavy handed with vanilla but I usually don't measure. I just pour but I'd say it was pretty close to 2 tablespoons.

              1. re: chowser

                Hmm, well if that worked for you then maybe I'll just go ahead and make them as called for...though I think I'll halve the recipe and bake in an 8x8 pan. Thanks for the feedback.

            2. re: wyf4lyf

              LOL, you sound like my kind of brownies people! I used the same mix of cocoa--ran out of the dutch processed. They're really thick brownies and I'm happy with just a couple of bites. I ended up giving more than half to my MIL. Was it rude of me to give her the insides and keep the edges?

            3. OMG!!! These are incredible!!!! I let them cool most of the way...still a tad bit warm. Lifted them from the pan (I used nonstick foil which is my new favorite kitchen product) and placed them on the cooling rack to cut off a piece. They are sooo buttery and chocolatey. I think I will like them even better when they firm up more as they cool completely. (I tend to prefer a chewy brownie.) I think chilling these will be amazing, too. Can't wait to see how they are tomorrow.

              I did use 2T vanilla and they came out fine. There's a ton of butter, chocolate, eggs and sugar to balance out all of that vanilla.

              My plan is to make a plate stacked with these, dust with powdered sugar and present to my husband, who I "caught" almost 22 years ago! I think, in our case, we'll call them "Man-Keeper" brownies!!!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: wyf4lyf

                Glad you liked them! I couldn't get over the amount of butter and eggs either. I used to think chocolate made better brownies than cocoa but I'm changing my mind. That sounds like a great presentation for your husband!

              2. I just made these for Valentine's dessert, and my OrganicGuy asked what they were called. When I said "ManCatcher Brownines" he laughed, and said "Well, if I ever get stuck in a tree, yes, you could use the smell of these to get me down!"

                1. The brownies were a hit with my man. :) I just tried one this morning and they are indeed even better today. They were covered in foil on my counter...it's relatively cool in my kitchen overnight and so they firmed up and are chewy, just the way I like them. This recipe is a keeper! I, too, was skeptical of using cocoa instead of chocolate, but it really works. After making another recipe awhile ago that used brown sugar and turned out great (I posted about it under "the perfect chewy brownie"), I'm convinced now that brown sugar is KEY to making a good, chewy brownie.

                  Now I want to make the 2 recipes side by side and do a taste test. I'd better gather a bunch of friends for that task!!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wyf4lyf

                    Please report back with your Chewy brownie taste-off...
                    Chewy is my favorite as well...from the Fine Cooking website

                    by Cindy Mitchell Added flour helps to give these brownies their chewiness. It's important not to overbake these or they'll dry out.

                    This recipe can be doubled easily; use a 13X9-inch pan and increase the baking time slightly. Yields sixteen 2-inch squares.

                    4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
                    4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
                    1-1/2 cups sugar
                    Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
                    2 tsp. vanilla extract
                    2 large eggs, at room temperature
                    4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) flour
                    2 Tbs. natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)

                    how to make
                    The recipe gives a range of baking times -- use the shorter time for metal pans, the longer for Pyrex pans.

                    Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with parchment (or waxed paper), and then butter the parchment.

                    In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove the pan from the heat; cool slightly. Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, stirring each time until blended. Add the flour and cocoa; beat until incorporated and the mixture is smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is uniformly colored with no indentation and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 45 min.

                    Set the pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan and then invert the pan onto a flat surface and peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to cool completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      I recently printed out this recipe from the website and they are next on my "brownie" list to try! The last batch I made was plain old Baker's one bowl brownies and they were good enough, but not perfect. Looking forward to trying these....

                  2. Reporting back:

                    Loved these brownies. They will be my go-to brownies from now on.

                    Thanks Chowser!

                    1. I made these yesterday and they are the best brownies I've ever done. Halved the recipe, baked in an 8x8 pan, took them out of the oven a little sooner and snuck in 1/8 tsp. cinnamon and some toasted walnuts. WONDERFUL!

                      1. Yeah...I continue to be amazed at how good these are. A wonderful cross between fudgey and chewy. Thanks, Chowser, for posting this recipe!!

                        1. I digress, but your post title reminded me of Molly Goldberg's comment about her bagel recipe: "If it's true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then a begel will get there faster and stay there longer."

                          1. Is there any way to add a caramel texture or flavour to the man-catcher brownies? I would like to make these for a friend who loves caramel this weekend. I know I could probably use those caramel chips, but frankly, I don't like those very much, and seems to me they are probably full of trans fats. Ew. Any other ideas?

                            1. Here's a recipe for caramel and instructions on how to incoporate it into the brownies from a fabulous turtle brownie recipe.

                              Make the caramel (recipe below), then add half of the brownie batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Spray a 1/4C measuring cup with PAM. Use that cup to measure scant 1/4C caramel and drizzle over batter. Drop remaining batter in large mounds over caramel, spreading evenly and into corners with rubber spatula. Drizzle scant 1/4C caramel over top. Using tip of butter knife, swirl caramel and batter. Bake as directed (40-45 minutes). Cool brownies in pan on wire rack to room temp., about 90 minutes.

                              Heat remaining caramel (you should have about 3/4C) in microwave until warn and pourable, but still thick, 45-60 seconds; stirring once or twice. Do not boil. Pour over brownies. Spread with spatula to cover surface. Chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours.

                              1/4C + 2T heavy cream
                              1/4t table salt
                              1/4C water
                              2T light corn syrup
                              1-1/4C sugar
                              2T unsalted butter
                              1t vanilla
                              Combine cream and salt in small bowl; stir well to dissolve salt. Combine water and corn syrup in 2-3-qt. pot; pour sugar into center of pot, taking care not to let granules touch side of pan. Gently stir with rubber spatula to moisten thoroughly. Cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat; cook, covered and without stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is clear, 3-5 minutes. Uncover and cook, without stirring, until bubbles show faint golden color, 3-5 minutes. (If full golden color, you’ve gone too far and have to start over.) Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until caramel is light amber (color of honey) and reaches 360 degrees, 1-3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and carefully add cream to pan; stir with whisk or spatula (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously) until cream is fully incorporated and bubbling subsides. Stir in butter and vanilla until combined; transfer to nukeable measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wyf4lyf

                                Thanks so much! That sounds absolutely wonderful.

                              2. I made them yesterday. They taste good, but my oven was too hot or someting- the edges got scorched before the middle was cooked. They're good, dense, and fudgey, but I'm going to have to play with oven temp.

                                1. I'm feeling a little dizzy.
                                  Made these brownies to welcome my husband home from a weeklong trip. They are truly over the top chocolatey denseness. Incredible
                                  First of all, my right arm aches from mixing the heavy batter. That is a wackload of sugar!!!
                                  While cutting them into squares I nibbled on the bits that fell off. It's so rich I am seriously spun. Wish I was as smart as chin and had made a half batch -- there's no way one guy is going to get thru all these (is there?!)


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: orangewasabi

                                    A whackload of sugar, butter and eggs! I'll bet they'd freeze well but I packed up the centers and took them to my MIL (my version of the all-edge brownie pan).

                                  2. I made them yesterday too. Amazing. Made a half batch and found I hade to bake them 45-50 minutes but thats my tempermental oven. Can't stop eating them. Best brownie recipe ever!!

                                    1. I too had to bake them for 55 and my oven seems to be right on. These babies are deelish. I made some sticky toffee pudding as well and can't decide which I like better. Ohhhh,,,the butter overload...my heart is slowing as we speak..LOL

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: DetectDave

                                        oooh, I am so glad to hear you all baked them longer. I baked them for almost 55 minutes. The knife blade was still coming out pretty muddy but I couldn't leave them in any longer for fear of ruining them (my baking judgement is completely undeveloped).

                                      2. I just made these and LOVE them.

                                        However, they are a little thick for my liking. Has anyone tried cutting the recipe in half but still using the 9x13 pan?

                                        1. I finally made these on Sunday night, and took all but a few into work on Monday where they were quickly gobbled up. These were really good and definitely got better with age. I was a bit concerned when cooking them since I actually cooked them for less time than was recommended, but thought they looked fairly dry/cakey when I removed them from the oven. However, upon tasting them I realized they definitely weren't dry or cakey--the term "chewy" really did define these well. Unfortunately, I am a fudgy brownie fan at heart, so I can't say that these beat out my go-to Ghiradelli recipe. But, they were a tasty and easy alternative--especially if feeding people who don't like their brownies as wet as I tend to like mine. Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Laura D.

                                            I agree with you - I'd prefer a "wetter" brownie, although everyone seemed to love these. Can you post your Ghiradelli recipe? Thanks.

                                            1. re: superkatie


                                              -2 eggs
                                              -3/4 cup granulated sugar
                                              -1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                              -1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted

                                              -2/3 cup all purpose flour
                                              -3/4 cup of ghiradelli sweetened ground chocolate (this is sweetened cocoa, and you might be able to substitute a different brand if the cocoa/sugar ratio is the same)
                                              -1/4 teaspoon baking powder
                                              -1/4 teaspoon salt

                                              -1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I omit these)
                                              -1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (I use more like 1/2-3/4 cup)

                                              -Grease 8x8 square metal pan (for a double recipe use a 13x9x2)
                                              -Preheat oven to 350 degrees
                                              -Mix together eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add melted butter and mix well
                                              -In a seperate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt
                                              -Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix thoroughly
                                              -Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips, if desired.
                                              -Pour into prepared pan
                                              -Bake for 25-30 minutes (I bake these for 12 minutes, rotate the pan, and then bake them for another 12 minutes...this keeps them very moist and somewhat underdone, so you might want to use the full baking time depending on your preferences).
                                              -Cool brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting

                                              Hope you enjoy...these are the easiest brownies I've ever made, and are, in my opinion, the best. I have never not gotten great reviews for these, though please consider that they will not be appealing to those who prefer cakey brownies

                                              1. re: Laura D.

                                                The Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa is actually a mix of cocoa, ground unsweetened chocolate, and sugar, so you're getting some solid chocolate in there with the cocoa, which probably also affects the texture vs. an all-cocoa brownie.

                                                Incidentally, if one cannot find this at their market, Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate hot cocoa mix is *exactly* the same thing, and the stores always seem to have plenty of those. It won't have the recipe on the back, of course.

                                          2. I made these last week, and while they were good, I like the Superlative Brownie recipe that was posted here a little while back. Those were the perfect combination of chewy and chocolately for me, while these were just a little too dense.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                              Did a search for Superlative Brownie with no luck. Could you post a link to the recipe? Thanks!

                                              1. re: emmisme

                                                I'm wondering if they meant Supernatural Brownies. The link with recipe and comments is here:

                                                1. re: wyf4lyf

                                                  I did mean Supernatural Brownies, thanks for finding that for me! Those were great.

                                                  1. re: wyf4lyf

                                                    tried the supernatural brownie recipe last night.... amazingly soft and fudgy. perfect dark chocolate flavor (i used ghiradelli dark chocolate chips)

                                                    im not a cakey brownie fan so these were a winner! now to try the OP's recipe.............

                                                    1. re: junglekitte

                                                      Now that is so interesting, because I thought the Supernatural Brownies weren't soft, but chewy...which is why I loved them so much. I wonder if it's all in our various ovens and how they aren't the same...or something...

                                                      1. re: wyf4lyf

                                                        hmmmm...interesting. i loved these brownies but would have liked them slightly more chewie (if we're being really picky here)

                                                        maybe ill try it again and see what happens. maybe i just didn't bake mine as long as yours? maybe i added slightly too much chocolate?

                                              2. Eh. I made them and made a huge mess. In all fairness, I never make brownies. But I had to keep switching bowls because I'd run out of room. I ended up with every mixing bowl in the sink. And to make matters worse, I didn't have the right size pan and had to improvise. And I forgot to spray the foil. Messy, and sticky. But, at the risk of "catching" any of my coworkers (yuk), I brought them in to the office, and they were a hit. Now if only they'd come over and clean my kitchen.

                                                Still, I should have added chocolate chips. I think I need chunks to love a brownie.

                                                1. question:

                                                  I just took my man-catchers out of the oven... I couldn't wait longer than 5 mins to taste. I took a piece off the edge of the pan; it seems real cakey to me. Did I over cook them? I went about 40 minutes. Is there hope for the center of the pan to be dense, gooey and chewy?

                                                  Should I take them out of the pan to cool, and further any carry over cooking?

                                                  Help, I'm not a baker.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Veggietales

                                                    Veggie, I felt like mine looked dryer/cakier than they actually tasted, so I wouldn't worry too much (you can't really do anything at this point anyway). And, short of refrigerating them immediately upon removing them from the oven, (which I've done before for other brownies so as to immediately stop the cooking process), I'm not sure that there is a benefit to removing them from the pan to cool further. My fear upon doing that would be that they would be too fragile and fall apart. Every brownie recipe that I have ever seen requires cooling in the pan, so I figure there must be some reason for that.

                                                    Let us know how they turn out.

                                                    1. re: Laura D.

                                                      They didn't turn out as bad (dry/cakey) as I had feared, but would have still liked then to be more gooey. I will remove them from the oven 5 minutes earlier next time.

                                                      All those who had a taste thought the texture perfect, besides...


                                                  2. I baked these brownies twice, using the cocoas I already had stashed in my cupboard - Hershey's and Scharffenberger. These brownies dd not rock my world. As some of the other posters mentioned, the edges seemed dry and cakey, even after I underbaked the second batch. I ended up trimming off almost a full inch on each side to give each brownie a maximum moist edge (bag 'o trimmings in my freezer awaiting some future use). Also, the flavor just wasn't deep enough for my taste - maybe because 1/2 of my cocoa was Hershey's? Anyway, my three favorite brownie recipes, all different, all wonderful, all deeply fudgey, in no particular order are: Nick Malgieri's Supernatural brownies (recipe available by googling), Rick Katz's Best-Ever brownies from Baking With Julia, and Rose Levy Beranbaum's Dark and Dirty Brownie's from Rose's Melting Pot. I think there's a brownie recipe in Scharffenbergers' The Essence of Chocolate I must try soon for comparison's sake.

                                                    1. I just made these again. I used parchment paper instead of aluminum foil and was not as heavy handed with the vanilla. It made a big difference. The top was not crinkly and shiny this time. They're still incredibly rich (how could they not be, really) but not as good as the first time. I'm still keeping the recipe, though! This does go to show how different people's tastes are on brownies--chewy, fudgy, cakey, etc. People have really liked these, but when you come right down to it, how many people refuse home made brownies, no matter what the recipe?

                                                      1. OK, these brownies are awfully good! I love that it's a more dark chocolate flavor than usual with brownies. Just made them so they're wonderfully chewy today. I'm looking forward to the change in texture I've heard about. It's hard to say that this is the best brownie recipe ever, but they're darn good! Keep the recipe as is I say, with the amt of vanilla as listed. Also, use non-stick foil -best baking invention of recent times. Definitely add melted butter/cocoa mixture to sugar etc in a large bowl - when first reading the recipe I assumed the other way around but then realized that no way would it fit.

                                                        Overall, a wonderfully solid delicious brownie!

                                                        1. I made these last week,and they really are amazing. Someone was saying earlier the chocolate flavor wasn't strong enough for them. I used Valrhona cocoa powder, and to me, the chocolate flavor was just perfect. Maybe you could try Valrhona?

                                                          1. I am looking for a killer chocolate brownie with a great fudge frosting...Anyone know one?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jinet12

                                                              hmm, i might try this brownie with a fudge icing if I was so inclined, as it is not too sweet.

                                                            2. I just baked a batch today and agree that while quite good, they aren't that fabulous. I actually think the Ghiradelli ones are better from the mix and way less work. I'll have to see how they are tomorrow, if the improve the next day. Not bad, but not worth the effort imo.

                                                              I used the foil and Hershey's cocoa powder (all that was available at my supermarket).

                                                              1. now, i consider myself somewhat of a brownie connoisseur(my thighs definitely show it)
                                                                and these are good. really really unbelievably good.

                                                                the batter is the thickest i've ever seen, you have to spread it in the pan.
                                                                i licked the spoon and almost went into a chocolate coma.
                                                                since they are so good(i'm tempted to eat the whole pan.) and so pricey(have you looked at what they require?!) i won't be able to make them all the time, which makes them all the better!

                                                                ps. the first time, i only had five eggs, so i used those and i probably won't be using six out of the fear that the won't turn out as delicious.

                                                                1. I know this is an old thread but I did a brownie search and made these last night. They are delicious! I made the homemade caramel pecan topping and ganache from this brownie recipe:
                                                                  http://www.joyofbaking.com/barsandsqu.... Made some into turtle brownies and put just the ganache topping on the rest. These brownies are dense, chewy, intensely chocolatey. We're absolutely loving them.

                                                                  Thanks for posting the recipe, chowser. Certainly not an everyday brownie (all that wonderful butter!) but for special occasions I'll pull this beauty out again.

                                                                  1. Would Ghirardelli "sweet ground chocolate and cocoa" do the trick for the cocoa powder?

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Gryphex

                                                                      No--it needs be cocoa powder. The sweet ground chocolate and cocoa has sugar added. But, IIRC, the container for that has a decent brownies recipe.

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        These brownies really are very good; somehow I personally prefer cocoa over chocolate in brownies, cakes and ice cream, and the title is my all time favorite, right up there with Blueberry Boy Bait.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          Thanks for that quick response. Here's another question: is there really that much difference here in using Kosher or table salt?

                                                                          1. re: Gryphex

                                                                            You can't do a 1:1 volume substitution as tables salt is denser. If you want to use table salt you'll need to reduce the volume amount (or use the same amount by weight).

                                                                            1. re: Gryphex

                                                                              I find table salt a little minerally in flavor when used straight but can't tell the difference in a recipe w/ as much flavor as this. I've read/heard from people who can tell the difference in something like this so it depends on your sensitivity. If you have no problems w/ regular table salt, I'd go ahead and use it but cut back to between 1/2-3/4 tsp.