I stumbled across this brownie recipe a week or so ago when I was reading another food blog and noticed that one of the comments referenced a brownie newsletter.
That’s my kind of newsletter.
A click or two later and I was on the website of Darn Brownies, a brilliant effort to give away free brownies to unsuspecting passersby.
“There are no tricks,” founder Chris Knight writes on his website. “You can take the brownie and run. Our main goal is just to give away a snack and help people have a better day.”
I loved the kind and quirky concept. Plus, the brownies looked pretty good too.
Knight describes Darn Brownies as “a movement to do something good for no good reason.”
Anyone can become a member. He just asks that you try to think up and launch a simple but friendly project in your hometown too.
Generally speaking, I’m not much of a joiner. In fact, as I sit here writing this, I’m having trouble thinking of any other group to which I have an actual, official membership. But I wasted no time at all signing up to become a member of the Darn Brownies movement, in large part because I wanted to get my hands on the (members only) recipe for those thick, dark brownies.
Brownies are one of my favorite food groups, but I’ve always been amazed and a little confounded by the wide variances from one brownie recipe to the next.
I’ve made lots of recipes trying to hit on the one I like the best and I’ve learned a little along the way: like that a perfectly decent brownie can be made with all cocoa in place of chocolate, and that fudgey brownies typically have less flour than their cakey counterparts, while chewy brownies typically have more eggs.
When I compared the Darn Brownies’ Belgian Chocolate Chunk Brownie recipe to the others in my arsenal, I found that it had more of, well, everything. Nearly a pound of chocolate. Nearly half a pound of butter. Five eggs. Two full cups of flour and practically as much sugar.
Knight’s recipe didn’t specify what type of chocolate to use, so I used a 72% cacao chocolate to offset the large amount of sugar in the recipe. He also didn’t specify what type of pan to use, except to say that a loaf pan was too small. I think there’s probably enough batter here for a 9″x 13″ pan, but I don’t like thin brownies so I used an 8″x 8″ pan. I did find that I needed to bake the brownies a little longer than originally called for.
Knight uses salted butter in his brownies, but I used unsalted instead. I always bake with unsalted butter partly because I read once that it’s fresher than salted, although I’m not sure whether that’s actually true, and also because I like having greater control over how much salt goes into my food. I did bump up the added salt as a result.
Other than those small tweaks, I stuck to the original recipe.
The resulting brownies baked up thick and sturdy with melty pockets of chocolate from the chunks that get stirred into the batter just before it’s spread into the pan. I loved the one-bowl simplicity of these brownies and their straightforward chocolate flavor.
I also appreciated that they sliced up neatly, even when still warm. I did wish that they were slightly less dense, but that won’t keep me from making them again.
Actually, if I had enough chocolate left in the house I’d be making them right now.
Adapted from Darn Brownies.
- 14 ounces chocolate (I used 72% cacao), divided
- 7 ounces unsalted butter
- 5 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8" x 8" baking pan. I like to line my pan with aluminum foil first, which makes it easy to remove and slice the brownies, but this is entirely optional.
Chop up the chocolate into small chunks. Measure out 4 ounces by weight and set aside.
Melt together the remaining chocolate and all of the butter. You can do this in small bursts in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Either way, stir frequently so as to avoid burning the chocolate.
Stir in the eggs, then stir in the sugar and salt. Gently fold in the flour just to combine. It's OK if the batter still has some streaks of flour in it. Stir in the remaining chocolate chunks, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 40 minutes. (Mine took 40 in a ceramic baking dish, but you should start checking at 25. Over-baked brownies are the worst.) When finished brownies should be set but still moist in the center.