10 tablespoons (145 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
1/4 rounded teaspoon kosher salt, use slightly less if using fine sea or table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large cold eggs
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1/4 cup peanut butter (optional)
Handful of chocolate chips (optional)
- PREPARE BATTER
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering.
Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest the bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water). Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and the mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty; it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot. Stir in the vanilla with a spoon. Then 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 fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be thick). Beat vigorously here. You want to see the brownie batter pulling away from the sides of the bowl (if you do not have the strength to do this by hand, use a hand mixer). Stir in nuts and choc. chips if using. Spread evenly in lined pan. If you want to add a peanut butter swirl add to top (in dollops) and swirl with toothpick.
Bake the brownies for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out with a few moist crumbs. As a visual test, brownies are done when the edges will look dry and the middle still looks slightly underbaked.
Some readers have found they need to bake an extra 5 to 10 minutes. Brownies are easy to overbake so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the visual and toothpick test as your guide.
Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.