Spectacular Chocolate and Espresso Brownies – Recipes

Spectacular Chocolate-Espresso Brownies
Spectacular Chocolate-Espresso Brownies

Brownies of course are one of those topics that cleave the population along multiple dimensions. Cakey or fudgy? Love the middle or the edges? Celtics or Lakers? Nuts or no nuts?

For me, I like more of a cakey brownie, but it has to be very moist and dense cake. Middle. Celtics!!! I like nuts, but we live in a nut-allergy family, so none in these.

I’ve been searching awhile for a recipe that really captured those qualities and packs a seriously chocolaty punch, one that satisfies a guy who will down a whole bar of 72% dark chocolate like it was a potato chip.

Now I’m not a huge Barefoot Contessa fan. Nothing against her, the recipes are solid but a bit obvious – nothing to make me really run and open the book often. But Sarina suggested that the Contessa might have a proper brownie recipe and boy was she right. The Outrageous Brownies are everything I was looking for. I don’t think I’ll ever try a different recipe again, this just hits it out of the park. And everyone I’ve fed them to agrees.

Needless to say I tweaked them out a bit to meet my own needs. The original recipe makes a 12×18 pan, but that is a lot for a small family, so I halved it to a 12×9 pan. Then I omitted the walnuts, doubled the salt, upgraded the chocolate, and simplified to use one less bowl.

I also replaced the instant coffee with instant espresso. I’ve always been loyal to the Medaglia D’Oro brand, which I used to drink 20 years ago at 4 AM, sneaking off between the first two sessions of meditation practice, when there wasn’t enough time to make a real pot. Now I’d never drink it, but it actually tastes pretty great in baked goods. Another good option is Starbucks’ Via instant coffee packets.

I sprinkled half of the chocolate chips over the top of the batter instead of mixing them in, which gives you these incredible creamy-chocolate rivers on the surface.

Hmm…. I guess that means I pretty well made the recipe my own, but with many props to Ina Garten. And she got hers from William Morrow’s  SoHo Charcuterie Cookbook. So it just goes to show you how recipes evolve over time. I hope you’ll change them to your own heart’s desire.

Note: if you want these to be really light and cakey, use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. I did this sort of by accident one day and was shocked how much it changed the texture. I don’t prefer it, I like them denser, but this is an option if you want more of a cake texture.

Most Spectacular Chocolate and Coffee Brownies
Makes at least 10 large brownies or 18 more moderate ones.
Vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free

  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. (1 bag) Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 oz. best-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped (Scharffen-Berger is awesome for this)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoon instant espresso (Medaglia D’Oro is good)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 c. + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 c. + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt)!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Butter and flour a 12×9 pan, at least 1″ deep.
  3. Melt the butter, half of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler or microwave (being careful to stir occasionally so it doesn’t explode in your wave), then allow it to coll a bit.
  4. In another bowl, beat together the eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the chocolate mixture, drizzling in slowly so you dont’ cook the eggs.
  5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. (If any of the salt doesn’t go through the sieve, add it in and stir). Add to the chocolate mixture and mix but don’t over-beat.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  7. Evenly distribute the remaining half of the chocolate chips over the surface.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Give the pan a rap to force out bubbles. Bake for 5-10 minutes more, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake! Allow to cool slightly. Don’t eat them all at once. Unless you want to.

Variation: In another bowl, melt 3/4 c. white chocolate and mix in 3/4 c. cream cheese. Swirl the mixture through the chocolate before sprinkling on the chips at step 7.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 in Baking, Desserts, Recipes.

11 Responses to “Spectacular Chocolate and Espresso Brownies – Recipes”

  1. Reply
    June 19, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    Well, I may have a worthy contender for the best brownie recipe ever. I lean towards the fudgey side of things, so I use the “Katherine Hepburn family recipe” from Gourmet.

    A question about the salt; Did you this because you left out the nuts or because the world doesn’t use enough?

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 19, 2008 at 7:40 am #

    Good question. It seems to me that most dessert recipes are just looking for enough salt to provide a neutral, non-flat flavor. I love the taste of good salt and chocolate or caramel, I think it really accentuates the flavor, so I find that doubling (within reason, and tasting along the way if in doubt) often works well.

  3. Reply
    March 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    I’ve searched – but have never been satisfied until now. An amazing brownie recipe. So moist and chocolaty. Loved the way the salt flavor came through. I will definitely make this recipe again.

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    March 11, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Thanks Trea, so glad you liked them!

  5. Reply
    November 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    I can’t believe you made the EXACT same modifications I did to the original Outrageous brownie recipe. I also used Medaglia D’Oro, vanilla and sea salt. This formulation is one of the best!

  6. Reply
    December 27, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    This looks fantastic! But can I sub the egg yolks??? Thanks, I know many folk should be jolly happy to see this one! 🙂

  7. Reply
    October 14, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Well, for all the great ingredients, I have nothing but a cake crumb mess on my hands which I don’t understand given the number of eggs and the short baking time (23 minutes). My husband has urged me not to throw the mess away (which I can’t afford to anyway), so I’m off to get some ice cream in order to sprinkle these ‘spectacular’ crumbs over! Still hopeful as I love the writing/recipe ideas on this site!

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 14, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Hey Jane – I'm so sorry to hear you had problems with this recipe, it is one of my favorites! So when you say it is a cake crumb mess, does it seem like it is overbaked and dried out to the point where they are crumbs, or is underbaked so that it won't hold together? If the latter, is it possible that it just needs to cool a little more to set? Also, have you checked your oven temperature recently?


  9. Reply
    December 5, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    My familiy loves brownies and I can hardly wait to try this recipe. It looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Thank You.

  10. Reply
    Crimson Wife
    June 16, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I made a gluten- and dairy-free version of these by subbing all-purpose GF flour plus 1 tsp. of xanthan gum for the regular flour, subbing Earth Balance for the butter, and using vegan chocolate. The brownies came out significantly better than previous attempts at GF vegan brownies and got rave reviews at a potluck.

    • Reply
      June 16, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      I’ve heard from a few folks that these adapt really well to gluten-free! Glad to hear they went over well.

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