Best Brownies

If one is going to take the trouble to make chocolate brownies, and incur the wrath of the Fat-god for eating them, one may as well make them right. Brownies from a box? No thank you.

I got this recipe years ago from my dear friend Suzanne, who had adapted it from an Alice Medrich recipe from the book Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate she found in Epicurious. Suzanne uses the same method and proportions, but instead of using vanilla, she flavors the brownies strongly with almond extract. So good!

They are the kind of brownie that can’t make up their mind whether they would rather be cake or fudge. The almond extract gives these brownies a wonderful flavor, a perfect blend with the cocoa and pecans.

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Best Brownies Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 16 to 25 brownies.

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 140 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (90 g) pecan pieces

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F, with a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper in such a way as there is an overhang on two opposite sides to make it easy to lift the brownies out when they're done.

2 Place the butter, cocoa, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized metal bowl. Fill a large skillet halfway with water and bring to a bare simmer. Set the bowl of the butter cocoa mixture in skillet of simmering water. Stir the butter cocoa mixture until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth and hot to touch. Remove the bowl from the skillet and let it cool down a bit, from hot to warm.

3 Stir in the almond extract. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, beating strongly after each addition. Once the batter is well mixed and shiny and thick, stir in the flour. Beat for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon. Mix in the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared lined pan and smooth the surface evenly.

4 Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 325°F, until a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes still a little moist with the brownie batter. Cool completely on a rack. When cooled, lift up the sides of the foil or parchment liner to remove the brownies from the pan. Place them on a cutting board and cut into 16 to 25 squares or rectangles.

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Adapted from Epicurious, who sourced the recipe from Alice Medrich of Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate.

Best Brownies

48 Comments

  1. Victoria Winters

    I just bought brownie mix yesterday, which I NEVER do. Must be lazy-end-of-semester-blues setting in. Do you (or any of your readers) know what the recipe for Starbuck’s Daybreak cookies is? I’ve been searching for it online and can’t find it. I just LOVE that cookie!

  2. Colleen

    I made these last night and they are FABULOUS!! I added mint and vanilla instead of almond (I ran out) and it was pretty good. Next time I’ll try the almond.

  3. katie

    I made these but I had to substitute a lot of things and this is what I did:

    10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cunched till powder oreo cookies with the cream taken out
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons lemon extract
    2 cold large eggs
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    They were soo good!!!!! Try them just follow the rest of the directions and substitute that stuff then email me.

  4. Lander

    I actually printed the recipe about a month ago and refused to make them because they looked so good in the picture that I knew I would eat too much. But my daughter has been asking me to make brownies for her birthday party so I decided to do a test run. I made these yesterday and only have 2 pieces left which goes to show how good they are.

  5. obsoletepostergrrrl

    I loved the texture of these brownies but they turned out way too sweet for me and not nearly chocolately enough. Any ideas on how to modify the recipe for a stronger chocolate taste without sacrificing the texture?

  6. susan

    I’ve been making these since I first found the recipe on Epicurious a few years ago. Soooo good, and easily adaptable. I sometimes use a bit less sugar or butter and it turns out fine.
    However, the quality of the cocoa makes a huge difference. Hershey’s cocoa is OK, but the brownies are ever so much better w/ Guittard or Scharfen Berger. Didn’t like the Hershey’s Swiss–much too dark, w/ a weird aftertaste. In addition to the almond extract, I throw in some cherries (either dried or canned/drained.) Almost like a flourless cake.

  7. Anna

    I just baked this, and they were really delicious. My little brother and his friend (I’m 17, btw) gobbled them up! Very chocolatey! I put brazilnuts instead of pecan, and it worked brilliantly! :) Great!

  8. Ryan

    I just made these brownies, and they are quite good. Instead of using a bowl with simmering water, I microwaved the mixture and stirred it every 20 seconds or so. Also, I used vanilla extract, and because I had no pecans, I decided to use chocolate chips. The chocolate ended up melting in the warm batter making them even MORE chocolatey, but they still were delicious!

  9. Cari Hill

    I made theses brownies for my daughter who LOVES brownies. I tasted the batter, and thought it may have been not sweet enough, so I also decided to add some Hershey’s milk chocolate chips, and OOOOOOHHHHHHHH my goodness! These are wayyyyy to addictive!!!!

  10. Meenah

    Umm..why no baking powder?

  11. Elise

    Hello Meenah – in this recipe the eggs are used for leavening.

  12. Just a Plane Ride Away

    Elise, these brownies are soooo good and surprisingly easy to make! I used vanilla (didn’t have almond extract on hand) and added a dash of cinnamon because yum–chocolate and cinnamon! As usual, thank you for another outstanding recipe!

  13. Jennifer

    Mine came out tasting almost overwhelmingly of almond extract and just a tad too sweet. I know I measured correctly…was I the only one with this problem? Any input?

  14. Purvis

    Oh, man. These are the best brownies I have EVER tasted. They are just the perfect consistency–dense and very, very moist. They are extremely chocolatey, but not at all bitter. I love that they aren’t too sweet, either. The flavors are nicely balanced. Altogether, it’s a bit like fudge. I, too, melted the first ingredients in the microwave. All in all, this was a very easy to make recipe. But I have to say, the cherry on top, so to speak, is the almond extract. What an unexpected and wonderful extra flavor! I am afraid to make these again, because I polished off the pan in a very short amount of time.. Pretty much by myself. :(

  15. redhedkev

    Yes! I had the very same feeling about the Almond extract! 2 tsp called for…. next time, 1/2 tsp Almond extract (Imitation only, local supermarket, is real Almond extract $$$ ?) I was rather overwhelmed with what should have been a hint of nut extract to compliment the pecans and walnuts, I used both. A 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract to round it out. ….maybe just a shot of Amaretto !! Of course…why did I pay….like $3.75 for fake Almond extract?

    I also added Baker’s unsweetened dark cubes, like 3. I’d add another egg, make it three, tended to crumble.

  16. Matthew Wei

    Great Recipe! I do have one question. Have you ever tried baking brownies in a muffin tin? Do you have to change the bake time?

    I have not tried baking brownies in a muffin tin. I suspect that the baking time would be a little less. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  17. Matthew Wei

    Hi Elise,

    I experimented with the bake time and the results and I have to say I found my new favorite way to bake brownies! It’s really good if you are a fan of edge pieces. At 350 a the outside turns all chewy while the inside stays moist and gooey. Sort of a single serving pan brownie with everything all in one muffin sized portion. The time is shorter. A usual 45 minute bake (gooey, moist and dense in the middle) took about 20 minutes to achieve the same results in a muffin pan. Yum!

    Love this idea, thanks for trying it out and reporting back! BTW, if you like edges, there’s also the Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan that several friends of mine use and love. ~Elise

  18. Britt

    I made these brownies last night for my graduation potluck and they were a huge hit. The entire pan is gone, and there were only six girls!
    I made a ganache and spread it on top and made fresh whipped cream that I left fairly bitter in order to balance the richness of the brownies and ganache. Cut into inch by inch squares and topped with a dollop of whipped cream, the brownies lookedvery elegant, almost like a flourless chocolate cake. Next time I will add some fresh berries. I can’t wait!

  19. Sarah

    Thank you Elise for yet another wonderful recipe! These brownies taste rich and moist, and go perfectly with vanilla ice cream. I used slightly less than one cup of sugar, added 1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and two pieces off a Ghiradelli bitter chocolate (non-sweet).

  20. Tatti

    I made this brownie today for dessert and everybody just love it! I’ll make it again! Thank you, Elise!

  21. Cynthia

    I made these brownies last night and they were awesome!! Thanks so much Elise! :-)

  22. Christina B

    Very easy brownies and very tasty. I thought the almond extract was a bit strong (so did my husband), so I may try half almond half vanilla extract next time. I will make these again for sure! They baked perfectly as well, they were evenly cooked, the edges were no more baked than the center, so no burned corners in order to get the center right.

  23. Anya

    Beautiful brownies! Was bemoaning lack of something chocolatey last night, so decided to make these. I’ve been looking for a half-decent brownie recipe for months now – all the ones I’ve made turned out too cakey and dry, not at all fudgey, melt-in-your-mouth delicious like these did. Made a few adjustments – didn’t add any nuts, and substituted 1/2 tsp vanilla for the almond extract (not my favorite flavor). Also added a splash of half & half to make them a little less intense chocolatey (bf prefers “milk choc flavors” and it dilutes them just enough to register on his taste buds).

    Anyway, THANK YOU! I thought I’d NEVER find what I was looking for…I

  24. Angel Arnold

    Great brownies! Very rich, fudgie and sweet.

  25. GoneVeg

    Maaaan, this is the reason why I will never be a permanent vegan. I can go for a really long time without having butter and eggs, but then I remember that things like this exist and it’s all over.

    These are DELICIOUS. They’re labor-intensive (now I understand why brownies in a box exist) but boy are they worth the trouble! Yum!

  26. Wendi Pedersen

    FINALLY! A truly decadent, delicious brownie recipe you can use to make YOUR idea of the “perfect” brownie! This is a great recipe BUT I’m just not crazy about the smell or taste of almond extract, so that got tossed immediately. To increase the intensity and complexity of the chocolate flavor, and make them a bit healthier (lol), I did the following:

    – reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup
    – add 1 oz. high quality unsweetened
    OR bittersweet chocolate to the “melt”
    process
    – omit the almond extract and use 1/2 tsp.
    vanilla
    – add 1/8 tsp. of ground chili pepper
    – add 1/2 tsp.ground cinnamon
    – add 1/2 tsp. instant coffee
    – use white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry
    flour instead of regular flour
    – toast the pecans before adding them

  27. pedro

    I made these on Friday night but substituted the nuts with chocolate chips. Also I used a muffin pan and they were perfect, rendering a moist center with the hard edges. No leftovers. Thanks for this recipe!

  28. Wendy

    Thank you for the recipe. I am shipping these to my dad for his birthday. I sampled one before packing them up and they are perfect! (had to use vanilla extract instead of almond)

    They are the perfect chocolate flavor, sweetness, texture – everything.

    Thanks again.

  29. Alicia*

    To echo Wendi P’s comment above: This is THE BEST basic brownie recipe. It’s rich and chocolately and everyone who ate them (14 former co-workers and 16 biker dudes) raved about them. Not to mention my mom and my boyfriend, but they’re biased! If using an 8×8 pan, you’ll want to cut these into 16 pieces. Use a good Dutch process cocoa. I used Clabber Girl (!?) as it was on special and I’m on a budget, and had great results. Sorry Hershey!

    Like everyone else, I modded mine too! I added cinnamon and instead of vanilla I used Kahlua Mocha. Instead of chili powder, I added finely chopped poblano chili (felt the need to go Aztec). Omitted nuts because one of the biker dudes has a nut allergy. No one missed the nuts.

  30. Aileen

    Thank you for sharing the recipe. This is definitely the best brownie recipe ever! It was a huge hit with the women at work!

  31. Karen

    Turned out great, but I have a question. I used Kerrygold unsalted butter and Droste cocoa powder. Melted together as instructed but it never seemed to get smooth. It stayed the consistency of wet sand. I finally threw it in the microwave and it did get HOT but not really SMOOTH. Finally gave up on that step, let it cool and finished the recipe. I was very happy with the results but was wondering what may have happened in step one.

    Hmm, I have no idea what happened. ~Elise

  32. farrah

    Hello! Can I use this as a base for rocky road brownies? I’m planning to add marshmallow and nuts on top. Thanks!

    I don’t see why not. If you try it that way, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  33. sharonc

    I, too (at this very moment actually) am using Kerrygold butter (not unsalted in my case) and my chocolate mixture is not melting but staying like wet sand, it has been about 15 minutes of trying to get the mixture to melt.

  34. Sarah

    These turned out delicious! I’m not a huge fan of almond extract but don’t like to stray too far when trying a new recipe, so, I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp of almond extract….still too almondy for me. I’ll use less next time. I also used chocolate chips in place of the nuts, which made them even gooier and richer. These have a great texture and are super chocolately which I LOVE! Thanks for another keeper!

  35. Lauren

    These were truly the best brownies I have ever made. I used one teaspoon imitation almond extract and found that it was not at all overpowering; instead, it intensified the richness of the flavor. I also used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of the pecans, and they made the brownies even more dense.

    I tried cooking the brownies in a muffin tin in cupcake wrappers. This method was great for portion control, but the brownies tended to stick to the wrappers. They sure looked cute, though. My husband suggested that I sprinkle confectioners sugar on top to cut some of the richness, which I did, but I think they were great either way. I had the same experience as some posters in that the cocoa mixture seemed sandy, but the brownies still came out tasting delicious. I used Hershey’s cocoa and cold butter, so perhaps this had something to do with the texture, but everything turned out great in the end (and I thought that the hint of almond was fabulous).

  36. Valerie Tillia

    I too had the trouble with it turning sandy. Doesn’t affect the flavor but its most likely due to a drop of water or steam getting into the mixture. It is shocking how much water can ruin the texture of chocolate.

  37. nr

    These were amazing. I decreased the amount of almond extract to 1 tsp (glad I did), upped the salt to 1/2 tsp, and used only 1 cup of sugar (because I wanted to add chocolate chunks). For nuts I used a walnut hazelnut combo and added some dark chocolate chunks (chopped up ritter sport 70% chocolate bar) for good measure.

    The brownies taste and smell amazing, even the next day. I had people coming in to my office asking what the delicious smell they were smelling was. Compliments include someone saying it was the best brownie they have had EVER.

    Great recipe, thank you!

  38. Chelsea Marta

    1) I used a muffin tin with cups: great consistency!
    2)I used a 1/2cup of canola oil instead of butter (the approx substitute equivalent) and layered the top with chopped Godiva Dark Chocolate-raspberry bar.
    3)I limited the sugar to 1 cup.

    I think the chocolate pieces on top may have made the brownies a tad more dense than I would have preferred. Perhaps if I add water they will be less dense?

    Still yummy!

  39. Jennifer

    AMAZING THANKYOU FOR THE RECIPE! I put chocolate chunks on one half and white chocolate chips on the other half (my family members aren’t too crazy about chocolate) and they came out spectacular. However they took 30 minutes to cook but it was worth the wait

  40. Sharleen

    First time I ever made brownies and I wasn’t sure if these would be good but they were so addictive! I made them yesterday and they’re all gone! I really love this. C:

  41. Jennifer L

    Elise, I think you’re single-handedly responsible for me winning over my in-laws. I’ve used several of your recipes and they’ve been impressed every time.

    I made this for everyone today and they LOVED it. I doubt we’ll have any left by dinner time.

    I would probably add more cocoa next time and less sugar, but that’s a personal preference, everyone else loved the sweetness. I ended up using vanilla instead of almond and walnuts instead of pecans (just because that’s what I had on hand), but it still turned out beautifully! Thank you for another success!

  42. Alia

    I can never make good brownies but I tried these and they turned out amazing! I subsituted vanilla extract for the almond extract and put in 1 tsp of it, which worked out fine. I did have to bake them for about 30 minutes before they were done, though.

  43. Jyotika

    The brownies were quite amazing! although I made a few changes. a bit of cinnamon,semi sweet chocolate, coffee powder and milk to make the batter less dense. I found the sugar to be little less even after adding more.
    They were great anyway.:)

  44. Michelle

    Best brownies I’ve ever made. Thank you!!!

  45. Jeremy

    I made these last week, and it was my first attempt at making brownies from scratch. I substituted Unsweetened Baking Chocolate for the cocoa powder and reduced the butter accordingly. I too ended up with the sandy sugar/butter/chocolate mix that others have mentioned. I had never used almond extract before, and 2 tsp was too strong for my liking. I’ll cut it in half or go with vanilla extract next time around.

    One problem that I had though was that the brownies seemed kind of dry and crumbly, especially after the first day. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get these to come out moister? I am at a higher elevation (4500-4600 ft) if that makes a difference.

    Thanks.

  46. Tricia

    I made these today and my husband can’t stop eating them. They are simply amazing!

  47. Kimberly

    I don’t know why but mine turned out more fudgy and wouldn’t cook in the middle and I had them in the oven for over 40 minutes, is it my flour.? Or maybe my oven needs set a little higher.?

  48. nearoffutt

    I do not want to need a chemistry degree to read ingredients, so I gave up on boxed food-like substances. This looked good! As the ingredients cost $8 in 2014, I was not going to fool around improvising and followed the recipe exactly. I used unbleached and unbromated all purpose flour, real almond extract, and pure cane sugar as I prefer healthy ingredients. I measured very carefully and timed stuff with a timer. Yummy! The almond flavor is strong. I liked that. These were moist, easy to frost, and this was a perfect quantity of nuts. I may try agasin using either almonds, or use pure walnut extrct and walnuts. Thanxfor sharing!

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