Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies Recipe on Food52 (2024)

Make Ahead

by: Genius Recipes



52 Ratings

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies

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Author Notes

This recipe is one part of a master brownie recipe Medrich designed to use whatever chocolate you have in the house -- but the best version happens to be the one that only requires cocoa powder. By taking out the chocolate, with its inevitable fat and almost-inevitable sugar, Medrich was able to control and fine-tune the proportions of both. When she added back in the fat (via butter), the middles stayed softer. When she added back in granulated sugar, the crusts were shinier and more candy-like. Any cocoa will work, but natural (not Dutch process) will taste more richly of chocolate. Recipe adapted slightly from Bittersweet (Artisan, 2003) —Genius Recipes

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

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Alice Medrich's Best CocoaBrownies

  • 10 tablespoons(1 1/4 sticks, 140 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups(250 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 cupplus 2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoonsalt
  • 1/2 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup(65 grams) all-purpose flour (unsifted, measured by stirring briefly, spooning into the measuring cup until it's heaped above the rim, then leveling it with a straight-edged knife or spatula -- it should weigh nearly 2.5 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup(65 grams) walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. (It might look gritty here but don't worry, it will smooth out later.) Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
  3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.


  • Brownie
  • American
  • Chocolate
  • Make Ahead
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Memorial Day
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  • Fall
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  • Winter

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alex Stenning

  • Dizzy Raish

  • Selina

  • Darcy Allen

  • Lauren

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

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256 Reviews

Pam February 11, 2024

These brownies turned out incredibly fudgy and delicious. Like other reviewers, I took a shortcut by combining the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, before adding the dry ingredients. I used dutch process cocoa, added chocolate chips instead of nuts, and ended up baking them for about 34 minutes. These were so incredibly easy, with the bonus of using pantry staples. I'll definitely be making these again!

Alex S. November 11, 2023

I have a question….in the ingredients it says cocoa (natural or Dutch process). Yet in the intro I’d definitely says natural (not Dutch process) so I am confused. Which is correct?

portmantou December 13, 2023

You can use either one, but natural cocoa will taste more richly of chocolate.

Lizzie.Mc August 1, 2023

I have tried so many brownie recipes in my life. They have called for complicated steps, freezing and re-baking, highest-grade ingredients, etc. I wasn't expecting these brownies to be very much, after all - there isn't melted high-grade chocolate, the recipe was thrown together in minutes and the bake time was 25 mins max. When I at them I was absolutely shell shocked. Fully had an out-of-body experience I'm telling you. These brownies are the best I've ever eaten. They're decadent, fudgy, cocoa-y and have a crackly top. Absolute perfection. 10/10 recommend.

Lydia July 24, 2023

Easy recipe that comes together fast! I reduced the sugar to 170g, used Hershey's Dark cocoa powder (100g) and about 50% whole wheat flour - not that it really mattered for such a small quantity of flour. Instead of a double boiler, I just used the microwave to melt the butter and mixed the sugar & cocoa in. It was quite pasty and thick after everything was mixed in, so I added ~1 Tbl water to help it spread, my eggs might have been on the smaller side. I used a dark metal 8x8" pan, and 20 minutes was enough time for it to set!

Lydia July 24, 2023

Though with the reduced sugar, it is more bittersweet than sweet, so I ended up throwing a few handfuls of chocolate chips over the top to melt as the brownies finished cooling*

Annette M. January 29, 2023

This recipe is simple and amazing. Fudgy goodness. I doubled it and baked it in a 9” x 13” pan and I ended up baking it for 45 minutes, but start checking it for doneness after 35 as all ovens bake differently. This will be my new “Go to” brownie recipe.

Aleelee October 12, 2022

These are fool proof and phenomenal. My 11 year old makes them for parties and they never disappoint. We've also made them GF and dairy free with Earth Balance unsalted and sorghum/millet flour with no sacrifice in their perfection. (The GF/DF batch needed longer to bake. Just trust your nose and your toothpick test and you'll know when they're ready.)

Aleelee October 12, 2022

The better the cocoa, the better the brownie, too. Callebaut and Valrhona are our favorites so far.

Messicobb July 26, 2022

I've never had a better brownie. 🥰

Shacia September 13, 2021

I have made these 3 times and theyre absolutely wonderful each time!

fvngtrntl May 31, 2021

I shortcut the hell out of this recipe! Just melt the butter, add the sugar and remainder of wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and combine in the same bowl. The brownies turn out perfectly every time! I have made it the traditional way once and have used the shortcut method ever since. Saves time and labor :)

Kristin May 31, 2021

That’s what I do too. Comes out perfect every time.

Money555 October 2, 2022

Same. And comes out perfect!

T March 6, 2021

I lessened the sugar to 180g and butter to one stick (around 110g) +7 min bake and it came out perfectly! A bit hard to stay in shape while taking out but super dense and perfect richness that it feels like a rich chocolate cake... :)

Alison October 31, 2020

I should have paid a little closer attention to the descriptions other bakers provided, but I was looking for a cocoa-based brownie recipe, and the reviews were glowing.... On the plus side, they are very chocolatey. However, although I made these according to the recipe, measured by weight, I found them way too dense and heavy. I read once that there is a great divide among brownie lovers--the people who like them to be intensely fudge-like, and the people who like them more cakey (these would be my people). So, if you are looking for VERY fudgy brownies, I assume these would hit the spot. If not, I'd recommend looking elsewhere or modifying the recipe slightly.

Dizzy R. July 2, 2020

i made these today - used browned butter, reduced the sugar to almost 3/4 cup & baked for about 20 mins. they weren’t as shiny as i’dve hoped but they were chewy and had a chocolatey bitter taste i prefer! i will try to make these again to try to get a better shine on them.

Viv March 23, 2024

i cut the amount of sugar and use about 120g - that's less than 3/4 cups. No shiny or crackly top either. Is that much amount of sugar (250g) necessary to be able to achieve shiny and crackly top?

Selina June 6, 2020

These were such a lovely sweet to make! The transformation from grainy meltedness into the gooey brownie batter was sooo satisfying, almost as satisfying as eating them. I was rushed and didn't try anything fancy with this recipe and it was still exceptional. Plus, using just a wooden spoon and a bowl is always a win. Thank you for this jem!

Darcy A. June 5, 2020

If you have a SERIOUS sweet tooth this is probably the recipe for you. 250g of sugar for me and my family’s tastes however is too much. I tweaked recipe and used 210g instead and found a little too much on the sweet side... will try less next time around. 22 minutes was the golden cooking time for ooey gooey deliciousness.

Viv March 23, 2024

I did 120g of sugar with no problem in terms of taste and texture. Just didn't get that nice little shiny and crackly top...

witloof May 26, 2020

These were shiny on top and dense, fudgy and delicious. I used Scharffenberger cocoa powder and added a tablespoon of instant espresso and a shot of chocolate extract to the batter. Big payoff for a one bowl operation! I think these will be my new go to brownie.

chloedan May 3, 2020

Liked not loved. Very dense and thick- more than expected. But also filling. Cooked for 28 minutes. Will probably do for 26 next time. I still love the basic Mark Bittman brownie recipe.

Lauren May 1, 2020

Delicious!! I made a few tweaks: used 2 T espresso instead of the additional cocoa powder, and added 1/4 t cinnamon. Like others, I also had to bake for about 10 extra minutes (but I also live at 7,800' so that could be part of it too). They came out super fudgy and amazing!

Jean F. April 20, 2020

This recipe made a delicious brownie using an organic dutch process cocoa by NuNaturals. This will be a go to dessert.

Jessica K. April 15, 2020

These brownies are my go-to's, they are great and come together fairly easily. I do find, as others mentioned, I need to bake them for about 10 minutes longer than suggested.

Elizabeth T. March 28, 2020

These were the best brownies ever. Why anyone would use a box mix I don't know. These are easy to make, moist and so delicious. I did find they took about 8-10 more minutes to cook. I used Droste Cocoa Powder, Dutch process.

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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