Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Flaky sea salt and crunchy cacao nibs are just two of the countless reasons never to bake another brownie recipe again.
Everyone claims to have the "best-ever" brownie recipe. Well, this one really, truly is. It's the ingredients like Dutch-process cocoa and espresso powder, and the techniques like melting the butter and sugar together to get a shiny and crinkly top, or the partial freezing-then-trimming of the brownie block to get those picture-perfect, crisp cuts. The addition of cacao nibs - a natural, unsweetened chocolate chip of sorts - on the top of the batter before baking offers a bitter bite to an otherwise sweet treat.
Equipment: dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; small saucepan; wooden spoon; large mixing bowl; whisk; rubber spatula; 13x9 baking pan; aluminum foil
Ingredients: 1 cup unsalted butter, melted 2 cups granulated sugar 4 large eggs
1 cup cocoa powder 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) 1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt 1½ cups all-purpose flour 2 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips 2 tablespoons cacao nibs 2 teaspoons flaky finishing salt, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking pan with foil so that is comes up all four sides. Grease lightly with butter. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir continuously until the sugar melts and incorporates into the butter, about three minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, espresso powder, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until well combined. Remove the whisk and replace with a wooden spoon.
4. Pour ½ cup of the melted butter-sugar mixture into the egg-cocoa mixture to temper, stirring vigorously for a few seconds, then pour the remainder stirring constantly until well combined.
5. Add the flour and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the brownie batter into the greased/line baking pan. Sprinkle the top with cacao nibs and 1 teaspoon of the finishing salt, evenly distributing.
"Using a mix of finishing salts, like Murray River, Maldon, Black Lava, or Sel de Gris, will add texture and whimsy to the finished dish."
6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender-but-firm to the touch and the top has crinkled.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of finishing salt. Set aside to cool. After one hour, place the brownies in the freezer (still lined with the foil) for 45 minutes to chill.
8. Remove the brownies from the freezer and peel off the foil. Trim the edges and reserve the scraps for later use (snacking, ice cream filling/topping, etc.). Cut the brownies into squares using a chef's knife.
Makes 24-28 brownies.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.