These brownies are a week old, nearly. It was on the 12th that I baked them, and on the 13th that I consumed them for the most part. I had most of a box of cocoa still available and with only a month left in Berlin it needed to be used. Photo-documentary evidence provided inside.
The brownies were an aside, a last-minute decision, and the photos were even more of a last-second brainfart; not until the butter was melting did I think, ooh, another overly-documented baking adventure! It was my old stand-by, banana-nut bread, that had brought me to the kitchen that afternoon, but a yearning for something full of chocolate flavor sidetracked me.
Step one: collect the ingredients. Step two: stick 1 1/4 sticks of butter into a pan, turn the heat on low, and melt that butter. In my case that is about half of a 250g block of butter, so I gave slightly more than half to the brownies, and slightly less than half to the banana bread, which only called for one stick.
Some people prefer brownie recipes that require baker's chocolate (bitter, semi-sweet, whatever) and others prefer those with sweetened or unsweetened cocoa. I do not have a particular favorite, but cocoa is cheap and plentiful here, and this recipe does produce a nice, dense, fudgey brownie. Thus, step three: add the cocoa, salt and sugar, and stir mightily along with the butter until your mixture is relatively smooth—a certain graininess might remain.
Now the eggs can be added. If I had vanilla extract I would have added it at this point, but I am out of said extract, and instead have been relying of vanilla sugar, which is an imperfect yet suitable substitute, and I use it as part of the sugar quota. As for the eggs, stir them into the butter-sugar-cocoa mix until smooth; the result will be a slightly lighter and more golden brown than the origial mixture.
We are almost done: just add the flour and fold it in. There is not much flour in this recipe; other use more flour, an extra egg, and baking powder or such to make a more cake-like and spongey brownie—those have a place, too, but that's not what I was making on the 12th of July, 2006. I did add 100g of chopped and sugared hazelnuts; I am also fond of a teaspoon or two of peanut butter, or the addition of cinnamon or even cayenne pepper. If using cayenne, do not exceed half a teaspoon, unless you know what you're doing.
I greased the pan, and in this case also flowered the bottom, which is not always a necessary step, but it helps in this oven in this pan with this recipe. This pan is a bit large for the recipe; I would prefer an 8"x8" dish, but beggars cannot be choosers, or so they say.
The dense, gooey batter does not quite reach the corners, but that is fine, for it will spread out a bit in the oven. As I always do with this oven, I turned off the top element about ten minutes into baking.
Twenty minutes later I pulled out the pan and let the brownies cool a bit before prying out a few examples of the fudgey goodness. As one can see, I also baked the loaf of banana-nut bread, and I opted for slick slices.
—July 20 2006