Love fudgy brownies and you don’t happen to have any unsweetened chocolate on hand? Don’t worry, because you can make cocoa powder brownies instead!
I’ll give you some basic rules to follow when your goal is fudgy and not cakey brownies, too.
For easy browsing, you can find all my cookies and bars all in one place, too. If you are looking for lunch box treats, check this out.
How Chocolaty Is Your Chocolate?
When I want brownies, I want them now. But I also want real brownies. Boxes are for shoes, not for brownies. Or cakes. Or cookie mix. Shudder.
I knew I didn’t have enough unsweetened chocolate to make my Favorite Ever Brownie Recipe (thank you, kind folks at Cook’s Illustrated).
Since I didn’t have any unsweetened chocolate, I opted for cocoa powder brownies. And that’s what you should do, too.
Why not substitute semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate? I’ll tell you.
The more sugar in chocolate, the less chocolaty the chocolate is. That leads to boring brownies.
For those of you who scratch your head and say, “Come again?” think of it this way.
Each ounce of a chocolate bar is made up of a certain proportion of ingredients.
The more of one ingredient you squeeze into each ounce, the less of another.
In this instance, sugar squeezes out chocolate liquor. And that’s not good for anyone.
In order to make your semi-sweet-chocolate brownies be as chocolaty as the unsweetened-chocolate brownies, you’d have to either a)use more semisweet and reduce the other sugar by x (wherein x is Completely Unknown), or just add in x amount of cocoa powder (wherein x is also Completely Unknown). Unless you do math. Ew.
Cocoa Powder Brownies
Rather than do Math and Leave out Sugar and such, I decided to take the path of least resistance and go with cocoa powder brownies.
Cocoa powder, like unsweetened chocolate, doesn’t contain any sugar, so it’s mostly pure chocolate liquor that has been pressed then ground up into powder. And that means super chocolaty brownies.
And for these cocoa powder brownies, I turned to my dear-but-as-yet-unmet friend Alton Brown.
You can find his original recipe here, but I tweaked and messed with it to make them How I Wanted.
I mean, what’s the point in being able to make your own brownies if you can’t make them Exactly the Way you want?
How to Make Your Brownies Fudgy
Alton’s recipe calls for regular cocoa powder, and I wanted to use Dutch process. Why? Because I didn’t want to have to deal with balancing the pH by using baking soda.
I also wanted these guys to be rich, moist, and dark. And you can’t get that using regular cocoa powder.
Acidic batters, which is what you end up with when using regular cocoa powder, set up more firmly. And that would have given me Cakey Brownies. Or at least less fudgy brownies.
If I wanted that, I’d have just made Cake. Plus, regular cocoa powder tends to be a bit reddish in color, and I wanted Deep, Dark Brownies.
So, that’s why I went with Dutch Process Cocoa.
I also wanted a burnt sugar Edge to the brownies. Not edge as in Edge Pieces, but edge as in bite or flavor–just a little hint. Plus, I wanted to deepen the chocolate flavor by using coffee in a supporting role.
Here’s what you’ll need to make my (now) favorite cocoa powder brownies. Feel free to tweak the amounts to make them your own!
- eggs: in this case, eggs function as leavener since you’re whipping a bunch of air into them. This will give the brownies a little lift in the oven. They also provide structure, emulsifiers, and fat to carry flavor and for richness
- espresso powder: just enough to underscore the chocolatiness. If you increase the espresso powder (or instant coffee) enough, you’ll have mocha brownies, which is never a bad thing.
- brown sugar: this provides the sweetness and lends to the tender, gooeyness of these cocoa powder brownies. You may also substitute a cup each of granulated sugar and packed brown sugar for the 2 cups of brown sugar called for
- molasses: adds to the richness and bittersweetness of these brownies. You can also use dark brown sugar rather than light brown and reduce the extra molasses or even leave it out altogether
- kosher salt: counteracts any bitterness from the cocoa and molasses and brings all the flavors into focus. You can substitute with fine salt, but reduce the amount by about 1/3.
- Dutch process cocoa powder: provides the deep, chocolatey flavor we want in a good brownie. You may also use American cocoa powder, but in that case, you may want to add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to counteract all the acidity
- melted butter: Often in making cakes, we cream the butter and sugar together (See: the creaming method). This provides some leavening. With melted butter, we won’t get any leavening. What we will get is lots of delicious fat to carry deep chocolate flavor. Creaming leads to cakey brownies, so using melted butter keeps things nice and gooey-fudgy, which is what we want
- vanilla extract: rounds out the chocolate flavor
- cake flour: provides a little bulk and adds to the structure while not being so much that your brownies lose their gooey lusciousness
These brownies aren’t hard to make, but the procedure might be a little different than what you’re used to.
Read through the steps so you know what to expect:
- Whip the eggs and espresso powder/instant coffee together until very light, thick, and fluffy.
- While the eggs are whipping, which takes about 6-8 minutes, melt the butter and whisk in the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla.
- Add the brown sugar and molasses to the egg mixture and whip for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the melted butter mixture and whip an additional couple of minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- With a large spatula, thoroughly fold in the sifted flour by hand.
- Spread into your prepared pan and bake at 300F for about 45 minutes until nicely set.
Tips for Maximum Fudginess
In a nutshell:
- Use lots of butter and eggs for richness
- Don’t use any leavening like baking powder or soda
- Use unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder–Dutch process
- Use a relatively small amount of flour.
- Deepen the flavor and chew with some molasses.
- Underscore the chocolate flavor with a hint of espresso.
Q & A
Pan spray the inside of your 9″ x 9″ pan. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom (or allow it to reach up and over 2 sides for easy lifting. Pan spray the parchment. Tada!
You can use an 8″ x 8″ pan, and your brownies will be a bit thicker. Use an 11″ x 7″ pan, and your brownies will be slightly thicker. If all you have is a 9″ x 13″ pan, you can use that, knowing your brownies will be very thin. You’ll have to adjust the baking time any time your pan size differs, so just keep an eye on your brownies.
Since they’re so gooey, it’s best to keep them in the fridge, covered. They’ll be fine for about a week. Allow cut brownies to come to room temperature, or you can microwave them for a few seconds for maximus gooeyness.
Yes, brownies freeze really well. Wrap them well and keep them for up to a month or so in the freezer. Put them in the fridge overnight to thaw before serving. And again, allow them to come to room temperature or microwave for a few seconds before serving.
If you have any other questions about this cocoa powder brownie recipe or any other, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can leave a comment here, and I will be back in touch in about 24 hours.
If your question in more urgent, you can email me and I answer within about 4 hours.
Either way, I promise to help!
Craving More Chocolaty Goodness?
Try one of these recipes!
- Dark Chocolate Pound Cake my tweaks to my mom’s recipe. One of the best chocolate pound cakes in the world, if I do say so myself
- The Best Double Chocolate Cheesecake ridiculously chocolatey and smooth. Decadent.
- Bittersweet Chocolate Babka with Pecans a little less intensely chocolatey, but still full of bittersweet chocolate flavor and topped with two kinds of glaze
- Bittersweet Strawberry Swirl Brownies these brownies are the best. If you like strawberry and chocolate together, you won’t want to miss these brownies with a strawberry balsamic swirl
- Apricot Swirl Brownies Like a Sacher torte, but in brownie form, completely with bittersweet glaze. Nice!
A Note About Measurments
This recipe is mostly written by volume (cups), but the vast majority of my recipes are written by weight.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend.
I really hope you love this recipe, you guys!
A star rating and a review is also really helpful to readers, so if you make this recipe, please rate and review it!
And leave me a comment, too. I love to hear from you guys, and am always working to make the site better!
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Thanks, and enjoy!
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder or powdered instant coffee
- 2 cups brown sugar, packed (about 14 ounces, Devoid of Lumps)
- 2 TBSP molasses
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, scant. (if you use regular table salt, cut back to 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
- 8 oz unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ounces cake flour, sifted (about 1/2 cup, sifted)
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Thoroughly spray an 8" or 9" square pan with pan spray. Cut a square of parchment to fit in the bottom of the pan, and then spray again.
- In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the four eggs and espresso powder together until very light and fluffy and at the Ribbon Stage. I did this on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes.
- In the meantime, melt the 2 sticks of butter and whisk together with the cocoa powder and vanilla.
- Once the egg and espresso mixture is nice and light, whisk in the brown sugar and molasses. Turn the speed down to do this, and then crank her back up for a couple of minutes. Scrape the bowl well.
- With the mixer on low speed, pour in the cocoa powder/butter/vanilla mixture.
- Turn the mixer back up for another minute or so, scraping the bowl a couple of times along the way.
- Thoroughly fold in the sifted cake flour.
- Scrape/pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Smooth the tops and bake on the center rack until set and beautiful, about 45 minutes to an hour. Slow and steady wins this race, so don't Go and crank up the heat. Bake them low so they stay fudgy and moist, so don't be tempted!
- Let cool on a rack for a few minutes, then turn out and flip right-side-up to finish cooling. Cut into squares.
Nutritional information is based on cutting the brownies into 36 squares.
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Nutrition InformationYield 36 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 113Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 34mgSodium 56mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 11gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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These cocoa powder brownies are amazing, rich, and fudgy.
Completely dark, completely moist, completely chocolate-y, bitter edge of burnt sugar. My Idea of Brownie Perfection. Enjoy!