Deirdre’s Brownies

July 6, 2007 psipsina

Back in 1992, when I was hanging around a lot with SB (I wonder where she is now), she gave me her friend Deirdre’s brownie recipe.  I tucked inside a cookbook, and there it remained for a very long time.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I think brownies are much better when made of cocoa instead of chocolate.  I don’t know why this is, it just is.  So a few months ago, when I wanted to make a treat to send to the office with the Red-Haired Boy, I went hunting for Deirdre’s brownie recipe.  And it was gone!

I then looked through our 775 cookbooks for a cocoa brownie recipe, and found exactly one.  It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t sing.  Deirdre’s brownies sing!

Now, one of the great things about moving is that you handle everything you own, which means that there’s a high likelihood you’ll actually lay your hands on those things you’ve been looking for forever and couldn’t find.  And thus it was for me – while packing up my art supplies, I found Deirdre’s brownie recipe at the bottom of one of those wooden clementines boxes that are so perfect for storing a few tubes of paint or several bundles of Prismacolors.

The best way to celebrate finding a long-lost recipe is to make it, don’t you think?  So I did.

I have made some adjustments here.  Virtually every brownie, cookie, and cake recipe on the planet can benefit from a slight reduction in sugar, so I reduced the sugar here from the original 2 cups – we took them to a party and no one complained.  Also, as my dear friend Liz has pointed out many times, chocolate baked goods demand salt, so I am suggesting 1/2 teaspoon salt here.  (I did not add salt when I made these earlier in the week, and I noticed right away that they tasted flat.)

Finally, the original recipe called for a gooey, grainy icing made of cocoa, coffee, butter, and confectioners’ sugar.  Now that I’m a grownup, I don’t do confectioners’ sugar icing any more, so I skipped that step.  If I’d had some leftover chocolate buttercream or ganache, I might have used that instead.

A few more notes:

  • This recipe should have been easy to remember, since it calls for a cup of everything except sugar (1 1/2 cups) and vanilla (1 teaspoon), and it is baked in the standard size brownie pan at the standard oven temperature.  I must’ve made this recipe 400 times in the 1990s, and I never noticed it before.
  • There is no typo here – there really is no baking powder or baking soda.  The eggs provide a little leavening, but this is a dense, but not fudgy, brownie.
  • SB wrote at the bottom of the recipe:  “Serves a lot of people for a long time unless you’re feeling really thwarted or something.  Also, Deirdre swears by Hershey’s cocoa; use any other kind at your own risk.”  Now that I know more about cooking, I wouldn’t say that Hershey’s is necessary, but you definitely want to make sure you don’t buy Dutch style cocoa, like Droste, which is treated with an alkali to mellow the flavor.  Dutch cocoa is absolutely right for some recipes, but not this one.

Deirdre’s Brownies (slightly modified)

1 cup cocoa
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine the cocoa and butter, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove bowl from hot water, add sugar and stir until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition until well blended.  Mix in the vanilla and salt, then the flour.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool, then cut into pieces.


Entry Filed under: baking, brownies, chocolate, cocoa, cooking, food, friends, recipe

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jolynna&hellip  | 


    Your brownies sound great. I prefer brownies made from cocoa also and have not been able to find a recipe.

  • 2. Lizmosphere&hellip  | 

    There is also Eric’s borwnie secret, which is to double the butter. I’ve never tried it myself, but Eric’s brownies always have a certain je ne sais quoi.

  • 3. psipsina&hellip  | 

    Hi, Liz! Is je ne sais quoi French for delicious buttery goodness? I think I might have to try this tonight.

  • 4. Brownie Hound&hellip  | 

    These brownies sound awesome! Must eat!!

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