Tag Archives: alice medrich

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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!Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}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 {Five Year Anniversary!}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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies
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.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Coconut Cluster Brownies

Coconut Cluster BrowniesWhen I moved in with my roommate, I thought it would be a short-term deal. We were friendly, but didn’t know each other particularly well, and I honestly didn’t think we’d get along in close quarters—the original plan was that I’d live here for six months or so while I recovered from the end of a relationship.Coconut Cluster BrowniesFlash forward three years and I’m still here, living with the same guy. Turns out that an obsessive baker who mostly wears pajamas and a neat freak can, in fact, live in peace. And make each other laugh really hard.Coconut Cluster BrowniesBefore I get to the point and why this is relevant to Coconut Cluster Brownies, I have to say that this is not some sort of romantic announcement. Hahahahahaha absolutely not.Coconut Cluster BrowniesBut let me confuse you further by telling you that he got me a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t a romantic gesture. We get each other things all the time—I sometimes make Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies just because I know he likes them and I regularly find new jars of peanut butter on my baking bench because he sees them on sale and knows I’ll put them to use. In the case of the Valentine’s candy, we both happen to have a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate. High brow, we are not.Coconut Cluster BrowniesThe small Whitman’s Sampler that I received only had a few pieces in it, and I immediately determined the order in which I would eat them, one at a time, over the next few days. The caramel went first, followed by the buttercream and the ganache. The last one, the candy that I was the least excited about, was the Coconut Cluster. It was shaped like a peanut butter cup, but instead of being a filling enrobed in chocolate, it was a block of milk chocolate speckled with bits of coconut. As I went to eat it so I could toss the heart-shaped box, I didn’t expect much, but then I popped it into my mouth and suddenly became obsessed with putting this rich, simple chocolate-coconut combination on a brownie. And so, a month later, I did.Coconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster BrowniesThese Coconut Cluster Brownies are nothing more than my favorite Cocoa Brownies topped with a layer of milk chocolate coconut candy. The brownie layer is rich and chewy with a touch of salt, while the candy layer is chocolaty, coconutty and slightly soft from the addition of a few tablespoons of butter. They’re great at room temperature, but if you chill the brownies, the candy gets a little on the snappy side. This is heaven for a texture freak like me.Coconut Cluster BrowniesIf you love chocolate, coconut, and brownies like I do, you will want to hoard all of these for yourself…Coconut Cluster Brownies…but maybe set one or two or four aside for your friend who puts up with your late night baking and knows you well enough to know how you feel about sale-priced peanut butter and cheap chocolate. That’s a good sort of person to have around.Coconut Cluster Brownies

Coconut Cluster Brownies
brownie recipe adapted from Alice Medrich
makes about 16 brownies

Cocoa Brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light 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

Topping:
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on all sides, and butter again. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

In a double boiler (or in 30-second increments in the microwave), melt chocolate and butter together. Fold in coconut. Mixture will be thick and heavily textured. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to spread mixture over brownies. Score chocolate with a knife for easier slicing. Top with additional coconut, if desired. Chill full pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Use parchment overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board and slice along score-lines. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container, layering brownies with wax paper to prevent sticking. Brownies will keep well for 4-5 days.Coconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster Brownies

The Second Best Brownies in the World {First Post}

Cocoa Brownies

My dad makes the best brownies in the world.

That may sound like a grand statement, but in my humble opinion, it’s the truth. He was the only person who ever baked in my house growing up, and his specialty was brownies. Whenever he got a craving for chocolate, he’d whip up a batch and we’d all spend the following days evening out edges and making brownie sundaes with Blue Bell Ice Cream and chocolate syrup. They were soft and fudgy (but never too gooey), and the crackly top of each batch always had something spelled out in pecan halves. Often it was “E1,” “E2,” or “E3,” his nicknames for my sisters and myself. On our beloved housekeeper’s birthday, you would see a pecan mosaic spelling out “Eula.” It was always an occasion. When I was applying to colleges in 2002, my first three acceptances came from schools in Oklahoma. I came home from school to find a huge pan-full with “OK” spelled out in pecans. I didn’t end up going to any of those schools, but I still remember those brownies.

Before I get to the recipe, you should know something. My dad’s brownies came from a box. Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, generic–whatever was in the pantry. I would love to say that the best brownies in the world come from an old family recipe, but that would be a lie. Sometimes the best doesn’t mean the finest ingredients or the most complicated. My dad’s brownies are the best because he made them with us in mind. They’re the best because he took the time to tile out our names in pecans because he loved us and was proud of us. They’re the best because my dad is the best. It’s only appropriate that I would write my first blog post with him in mind.

On the chance my dad doesn’t frequent your kitchen, here are what I consider the second best brownies in the world. They are fudgy and rich, gooey but not over the top. They’re made with brown sugar in addition to granulated to give a little extra chew and complexity from the molasses. What really makes them the best is their simplicity: there’s no melting of chocolate over a double boiler, no need for a mixer, and only marginally more work than stirring together boxed brownie mix. Just ten minutes to mix them up, thirty in the oven, and a few more to cool before you can dive face-first into a brownie sundae. Once they’ve cooled completely, they slice like a dream and are perfect for tucking into lunches.

Make these for someone you love and are proud of, even if it’s just yourself. And don’t forget to write something in pecans. It’s what my dad would do.

Cocoa Brownies in Pan

Cocoa Brownies

adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8×8″ pan*

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
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 8×8″ square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before inverting to release. Slice into 16 or 25 squares. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. A 9×9″ pan may be substituted, but the baking time may be slightly shorter.
  2. I often use a mixture of natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, but using all of one or the other is fine. Use whatever you have on hand.