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Mar 3, 2011 10:09 AM

Shall we talk about brownies again? Your favorite recipes and why they are favorites?

Mine is of course Nick Malgieri's Supernaturals as I am sure everyone is sick to death of me going on and on about.
I will concede that even though they (with a tweak or two, the addition of 1 tsp baking powder being the most important) hit my every brownie nerve, they quite possibly don't do it for everybody.
So - hit me with your best shots - no holds barred. I can't promise I'll make all of them but I'll try to.

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  1. The supernatural ones are my regular go-to one. They're always a hit and especially good in muffin/cupcake cups because of the chewy texture and extra crust. I think, quintessentially, it's what most people have in mind for a brownie.

    But, if I want a less sweet brownie with an intense dark chocolate taste, I use Chow's brownies but replace the tsp of espresso coffee w/ espresso powder. And, I use less white sugar but add a little molasses (home made brown sugar essentially).

    If I want to be overwhelmed by chocolate, I use the man catcher brownies recipe. But, it calls for 3 sticks of butter and 6 eggs--just a lot of brownie for what I normally need.

    I also have a recipe for a cakey brownie swirled with peanut butter batter. It's very kid oriented, less chocolately/fudgy but I also chop reese's peanut butter cups and add them on top. I wouldn't bring it to a CH function but to a kid function, except that pb has been outlawed at those.

    1. So glad you posted this, it's always helpful when people post reasons rather than "blech", so that readers have some direction.

      Loved the flavor of NM's and spoons were licked, but will be adding a slight bit of flour and (BP, your suggestion); this made me think we might be bigger on texture here than on flavor so, I will keep experimenting. I'm really hoping there are some other worthy recipes out there to try.

      Chowser, I looked at the ingredients on the second one you posted (the CH one), may give that one a go, as well as this one:

      I want to try this one with an 8-inch square rather than 9.

      4 Replies
      1. re: lilgi

        The leites one looks good with the less sugar but I want a brownie that's less fudgy and that doesn't have much flour. The next one on my "To try" list is Thomas Kellery's Ad Hoc brownies.

        Oh...and I just figured out that NM is Nick Maglieri, not Neiman Marcus. Don't know why it took so long.

        1. re: chowser

          Not sure why you think the Lebovitz recipe that I posted has too much flour. The rest of the ingredients are proportionately less and the flour is a mere 1/4 cup. I still think these may be a bit too soft/fudgy, but all the brown sugar in Malgieri's recipe might be the problem for me. That's why I would like to try this one as well (without nuts, I always make without nuts).

          I'd like to try the ad hoc recipe too; had chocolate birthday cake to make but will try some maybe next week.

          1. re: chowser

            I love the picture of the Ad Hoc brownie but it seems like 3 sticks of butter is an awful lot for a recipe in a 9 inch pan, when most of my go-to recipes for brownies use 1 stick of butter for a pan that size. If you make it then definitely report back!

            1. re: Laura D.

              I made them last week. They were good, even very good, but not the best I have ever made or had. They are a very cake like brownie, and have a very rich flavor, but I am not sure they are worth all the calories of three sticks of butter!

        2. I have two favorite brownie recipes. One is Ina Garten's "Outrageous Brownie" recipe. It is decadadent, rich, heavy, and unbelievable.
          The other is an easy-peasy brownie recipe that is on the back of the nestle's cocoa box. It isn't as heavy and rich as Ina's, but is great for a quick brownie. Better than Duncan Hines.

          13 Replies
          1. re: jarona

            Wow, over a pound of chocolate and a pound of butter in outrageous brownies. Although, I guess to be fair, it's one large pan--12x18 is an odd size. I don't have a pan that size.

            1. re: chowser

              I use a large jelly-roll pan. I agree that the pan size is an odd size, but -- Oh my, these brownies are absolutely amazing.

              1. re: jarona

                My jelly roll/cookie sheets are too big. I'm like Goldilocks here but this recipe looks great. I'll have to work around it and maybe make two pans.

                1. re: buttertart

                  I just measured--they are 12x18. I don't know why they seem so much bigger. But, they're only 1/2" tall. I think I can get it to work in a 9x13 and 8x11 but watch them closely.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Sounds like a half-sheet pan to me.

              2. re: jarona

                I came in here to say Ina's Outrageous Brownies (but leave out the nuts)!; they really live up to their name!
                I'm pretty sure she uses a half-sheet pan in the episode of her show that she makes these. That's what I always use anyway, and they turn out fine.

                1. re: kosherfoodies

                  Does it have to be an inch tall like the recipe calls for? Mine is about 1/2" and I don't want it to overflow but these might be great party brownies.

                    1. re: kosherfoodies

                      Thanks--I'll give it a try for this weekend's skiing. Sounds perfect!

                2. re: jarona

                  I've never been tempted to make this recipe because I don't like chocolate chips in chocolate things, it makes a boatload of them, and to me they seem outrageous in an unappealing way. Just sayin', it's just me. Speaking of boats, my philisophy is whatever floats yours.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    I feel the same way but I have to say I love Ad Hoc's chopped chocolate in the brownies. I chopped them more finely than chocolate chips and they melt so you get some nice chocolate-y bites. I'd do that, if I made this recipe.

                    1. re: chowser

                      That's an idea, it's the mouthfeel of the chocolate chips themselves - regular ones that are hard once cooled - that I don't like. Still feel the recipe is too, too.

                3. Dare I say I like the old Joy of Cooking's "Brownies Cockaigne" recipe? I use a bit more chocolate and a bit less sugar than called for, and these are just right for my tastes -- very chocolate-y but not too greasy or sweet.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: visciole

                    Say it all you want Visciole, and I'll say it too.

                    It may not be the most glamorous or gluttonous brownie out there, but the Joy of Cooking Brownies Cockaigne recipe is darn good, and it's my go to recipe when I make Super Bowl Sundaes (brownie, ice cream, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and of course a cherry)

                    1. re: visciole

                      That used to be my standard as well, for years and years. Also the Fannie Farmer Baking Book one with unsweetened chocolate.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        So, Buttertart, since you've made and eaten these as well as your faves the NMS brownies, can you please tell me how they taste different? I looked at the recipe and it seemed to me like they would be heavier texture-wise and richer tastewise... but maybe if you tell me your feeling as to how they're different I'll know whether or not I ought to try out the NMS ones....

                        (I should add I generally use 5 oz unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 cup sugar in the JoC recipe, rather than 4 oz and 1 cup.)

                        1. re: visciole

                          To tell the truth it's been ages (ever since "Chocolate" came out) so I don't really remember, but the dark brown sugar in the NM ones adds a distinct note that makes them seem not terribly sweet (to me).

                    2. Hi everyone,

                      I do have a favorite brownie recipe. It's Hershey's Easy-Does-It Fudgey Brownie. It truly is easy - takes maybe 5-10 minutes to mix it up. From a 1982 magazine.

                      Why is it my favorite? Because it's a moist, fudgy dark chocolate brownie that mixes up fast. Makes a 9 x 13 pan. One bowl. No expensive ingredients. No mixer. No sifting... Okay, I'll stop. :)

                      An interesting method. Dry cocoa is mixed with vegetable oil and baking soda, then boiling water is added. The cocoa/oil/soda mix bubbles up and becomes a wonderful dark chocolate mixture. Then it gets sugar, eggs and flour added. Of course some salt and vanilla.

                      To be honest, I've been reluctant to post it here because it's not 'gourmet' nor does it use any fancy cocoa powder. Just plain ole Hershey's natural cocoa powder, not Dutch process.

                      Matter of fact, it doesn't come out as well using dutched cocoa because dutched cocoa can't be substituted in a recipe where baking soda is the only leavening. I made the brownies at my son's house this past summer. The cocoa he had was an expensive dutched brand. The brownies were okay, just okay. Not deep, dark and fudgy delish.

                      Anyhow, here's a link to the recipe. It's no longer available from Hershey's but I found it on


                      Oh, you just gotta frost these with ganache...


                      11 Replies
                        1. re: buttertart

                          Yes, I also found it interesting .

                          A week or so ago I came across a Red Devils Food Cake recipe I wanted to try. It's made with shortening, egg whites, water and baking soda. No butter, egg yolks, milk or baking powder.

                          The method was different too - the egg whites are beaten into a meringue using part of the sugar and folded into the batter before adding the leavening.

                          I decided to research it because I was concerned with the soda-only leavening.

                          Came across this site which discusses the differences in cocoa. Learning the important factor was natural cocoa, I decided the recipe was worthwhile.


                          The cake was extremely nice. Moist, reddish-brown crumb, very good flavor with no baking powder taste. It rose perfectly to the top of the pans, didn't hump up in the middle.

                          I frosted it with Seven Minute Icing.

                          Edited to add: A classic buttercream would have been way too rich for this cake. (I ended up using the egg yolks for bread pudding.)



                        2. re: I used to know how to cook...

                          I'm not a big fan of dutched cocoa, actually, and much prefer alkalized. That recipe looks interesting--I'll bet using hot coffee would make a big difference, too.

                          1. re: chowser

                            The cocoa I like best is Valrhona, which I think is dutched. The effective dutching with the soda in the brownie recipe is very interesting.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I should look for Valrhona. I tend to buy less expensive cocoas and I thought, though wouldn't put money on it, that the alkalining of it was more than just adding baking soda.

                            2. re: chowser

                              The Red Devil's Food Cake recipe is in my old and tattered BH&G cookbook, 1965 Edition, page 106. I don't know if it is in more recent editions.

                              Yes, using coffee might give a deeper, almost mocha, flavor. I wonder how the acid in the coffee would affect the leavening? Anyone care to weigh in?

                              Editing to add re what Buttertart posted... Yes, dutching natural cocoa with the soda... Seems that neutralizes the soda, leaving no soda/leavening taste.


                              1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                Adding an acid to a batter doesn't make a difference--batter doesn't have to be neutral. People often get that backward because if you have baking soda, then you need an acid for it to react. But, having an acid w/out baking soda is fine. If you use a tsp of espresso powder, you don't taste the coffee flavor but it intensifies the chocolate, along the lines of how adding salt intensifies flavors.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Chowser, our favorite chocolate cake recipe has baking powder and no acid.

                                    edit: nvm, I think buttermilk is an acid.

                                    1. re: lilgi

                                      Yes, baking powder is neutral so doesn't need an acid. Buttermilk is an acid and is often used w/ baking soda. But, you can use baking powder w/out problem in an acidic batter.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Meant to say Baking soda, for some reason I always make that mistake :) No baking powder in my recipe.