E2 Bakes Brooklyn is five years old today! Yep, this little blog is exactly half a decade and 544 posts old. I can’t believe it.
This post, lucky number 544, has the distinction of being my very first repeat. I mean, I’ve used the same chocolate cake in a few different recipes and I have repurposed the same sugar cookie dough at least five times, but this is my first straight-up repeat recipe.Today, I’m remaking the Cocoa Brownies that I posted on day one: October 21, 2015. They are a twist on Alice Medrich’s stellar recipe, and though I have made many more brownies in the intervening years, these are still my favorites. They’re dark, dense and fudgy, and so chocolaty, you’d never guess that all their flavor comes from cocoa powder.But still, do they warrant a repeat? Even on an anniversary? Well, call me nostalgic, but yes. And for the record, I’m not just revisiting my first post for nostalgia’s sake. As my favorite writer/comedian/Deranged Millionaire/actor/podcaster/celebrity crush, John Hodgman, likes to say, “Nostalgia is the most toxic impulse.” What that means is that you need to live in the present. And in my present, I’ve got unfinished business with my Cocoa Brownies.I mean, I like my first post and the recipe, but the photos? Yikes. They’re not my worst ever, but they’re not great. I’ve gone back and re-done the photos on a few posts in the last couple of years, but it seems wrong somehow to mess with the first post, even with its weird formatting and stilted instructions. 2015 Liz was super proud and excited about finally starting this blog, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way. It was a moment in (my) food blogging time.
That said, today is another a moment in (my) food blogging time—a moment in which Cocoa Brownies finally get the photoshoot they deserve. While I am not a pro food photographer or stylist, I have learned a lot while photographing 544 posts, all on iPhones and nearly all with the same Carrara marble pie board as backdrop.And baking? I’ve learned ten times as much about baking in the last five years as I have about photography. Still, these Cocoa Brownies didn’t need much of an update recipe-wise. In remaking them, I only made one major adjustment: I mixed them right in the pot where I bloomed (melted together) the butter, cocoa, and sugars. You can, of course, just mix the batter in a bowl, but why add more dishes if you don’t have to, am I right?! I simply waited for the cocoa mixture to cool a few minutes so I could add the eggs without scrambling them, then stirred in the dry ingredients. Then I just transferred the batter into an 8-inch square pan. Et voila!I decided to top this pan of goodness off with a pecan mosaic. My dad, the primary brownie baker in my family, always uses pecans to write something on his brownies—initials, greetings, silly words–and I like to as well. I think today warrants a “5,” don’t you?Cocoa Brownies bake in 30 minutes and cool in about an hour, making them the perfect simple treat for celebrating one of my biggest accomplishments to date—one that I couldn’t have done without you. This blog has helped me make new friends, reconnect with old ones, strengthen existing relationships, and interact with so many people that I truly would never have met if it weren’t for this compulsive home-baking and over-sharing habit of mine. Thank you for the kind notes, laughs, likes, questions, comments, and social media posts—for just being a part of this community. It means the world.
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
pecan halves for decorating, optional
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.
In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cocoa powder together, stirring frequently, until a thick, grainy mixture forms. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5-7 minutes.
Add vanilla and eggs to the pot, and stir/whisk to combine. Add flour and salt and stir/whisk to combine. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to the edges. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Top with pecans, if desired.
Bake brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).
Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before using parchment overhang to lift brownies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice brownies into 16 or 25 pieces. Serve.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. These may also be layered with wax paper or parchment and frozen.