Scientifically Sweet: Old School Walnut Brownies

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Old School Walnut Brownies

Why another brownie recipe? Well why watch another sunset? Because it's a beautiful thing and a different experience every time.

I hope your weekend was blissfull. I hope you had a nice break from the morning commute. I hope you slept in and then scored every green light on your way to spin class. I hope you didn't have to wait in any painful cashier lines at the grocery store and you found a two for one deal on Ben & Jerry's. Because ice cream would really be great with these brownies...

I make brownies so often that I like knowing lots of ways to do them. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all moist and fudgy.

For so many reasons I favour brownies made with dark chocolate. They are rich, chewy and give me a purpose to sit down with a block of chocolate and chop. One for me, one for the recipe. You know how it goes... In addition to this they are so fudgy and flavouful.

The old-fashioned classic way is to use cocoa powder, probably because cocoa is more economical than chocolate. But those types of recipes have a habit of being cakey, dry and sometimes bland. Not this one though. Oh no.

These Old School Walnut Brownies are moist and soft with an almost creamy texture. They are different from the dense chewiness you get from chocolate-based brownies.

They get this way because of how we combine the ingredients. It is thought-out and purely scientific. The downfall is that I have no excuse for bringing out my giant chocolate block so my instant satisfaction comes from eating too much of this batter. That's a problem.

A combination of butter and cocoa makes a soft brownie because butter has a lower melting point than cocoa butter. That is why butter is soft at room temperature and chocolate is hard.

How to guarantee they stay moist? Dissolved sugar.

Most recipes go like this: melt butter, stir in cocoa, stir in sugar, bean in eggs, stir in flour.

My recipe goes like this: melt butter, stir in cocoa, whisk eggs with sugar thoroughly, stir in melted butter/cocoa mixture, stir in flour.

Whisking eggs with sugar helps to dissolve the sugar so that it really holds on to the moisture brought by egg whites.

I'm normally not a nut-in-my-brownies person, but I'm being Old School today, and walnuts are what they used to teach. It's not so bad. I can come around to it.

Any soft nut, like pecans, would work well here. Just avoid almonds or hazelnuts - their firm texture would just get in the way of all the smooth fudginess.

Just 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder gives the tiniest bit of puff to encourage a bit more softness, but not so much that it makes cake. Check on their doneness after 20 minutes. Over-baked is not a good look for them.

Let's all get into the habit of making cocoa brownies right. Satisfaction guaranteed. Brownie batter mustache guaranteed.

Old School Walnut Brownies 
Makes 12-16 brownies

10 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (56g) natural cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp (15ml) strong coffee or water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¾ cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa and salt until smooth. Stir in coffee.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the sugar vigorously until thickened and lightened by a shade.  Add the vanilla extract. Whisk the cocoa/butter mixture into the sugar mixture.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold it in until combined. Fold in walnuts.

Spread batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with extra walnuts.  Bake for 20-23 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into bars.
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  1. Hi Christina!! I just made these brownies after finding your account on food gawker and they were absolutely amazing! I was going to save them a surprise for my boyfriend since our 3 year anniversary is tomorrow but I don't think I can keep these from him for even a day. I will say I had to bake these for almost 35 minutes. I am located in Denver, CO so maybe it's something to do with the high altitude? Regardless i just kept checking them every 5 minutes until a knife came out clean. I will definitely be saving this recipe for future keeps. I also added about a half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batch to make them extra chocolaty. Thanks so much for sharing and I can't wait to try out your other recipes!

    1. Hi Melanie, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe, and thank you for taking the time to comment. It means a lot! xoChristina


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