Super Rich, Crowd Pleasing Brownies

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup vanilla bean infused rum OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups regular baking or Dutch-process cocoa*
1 teaspoon espresso powder
pinch salt
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9″ x 13″ pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugars together.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Crack the eggs into the bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter together with the infused rum or vanilla. Stream the butter mixture into the sugars and beat until smooth. While the mixer is running, add the cocoa mixture/eggs, beat until smooth and glossy. Beat in the flour until just mixed. Fold in the chips.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth using the back of a spoon or spatula until the batter is evenly divided. Bake 30 minutes or until a knife or tester stuck in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs (the batter should not look raw!!). Cool, in the pan, on a wire rack completely before slicing and serving.

*Dutch process will leave you with a little bit darker and richer brownies but regular cocoa is fine too. I actually used a mix so I could finish off two open containers I had hanging around.

My thoughts:

This past weekend we were invited to a White Elephant swap at a friend’s house and I didn’t want to show up empty-handed so I made these brownies to bring. Brownies are a great take-along dessert because they are pretty quick to mix up, they don’t bake as long as a cake, they can cool and be sliced in the pan and don’t have to be iced. Plus it is just as easy to make a big pan (like 24 smallish brownies as it is to make a small pan. For these brownies, I used cocoa and chips instead of baking chocolate so they can be made easily with ingredients you most likely already have on hand.

For this recipe, I mixed up my technique a bit and used melted butter than I then beat that (while still hot) into the sugar. It helps to melt and break down the sugar a bit which gives the brownie a glossy. slightly crackling top but is easier than melting the butter and sugar together on the stove top which gives basically the same results but needs your constant supervision so you don’t scorch the pan or make candy. Simpler and easier is always better when it comes to brownies!

I also used 60% dark chips and a bit of espresso powder (find this in an Italian market or near coffee/tea or near baking goods at a regular supermarket) to give it real depth and tons of rich chocolatey flavor. Feel free to use milk chocolate and eliminate the espresso powder if you aren’t chocolate fiends for a lighter result.

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