Dark Chocolate Cocoa Brownies

You know what’s a great cure for a flat tire? Brownies. Specifically, rich, moist dark chocolate brownies. They’ll cure anything, really.

brownie tower

Yesterday, in an effort to eat my sadness, I sauntered to the pantry only to discover that I was out of my faithful Ghirardelli boxed brownie mix. CUE THE MELTDOWN. Brownies were delayed until I could make it to the grocery store, but instead of picking up a box of brownie mix when I was there, a box of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa caught my eye. A note to marketers out there: if you want me to buy your product, put “Dark Chocolate” on the packaging and I’m sold.


I returned home with my powdered gold and immediately set out to find the best cocoa powder brownie recipe on the internet. An excellent distraction from the flat tire taunting me from the parking lot, certainly. During the course of my search, I discovered that there are a ton of cocoa powder brownie haters out there. People who exclusively use expensive bars of European chocolate in their brownie mixes, scoffing at the underlings who dare to sabotage their brownies with – gasp – cocoa powder!

dark chocolate brownies

I feel sorry for this special breed of hater, because these brownies will knock your socks off. Deb at Smitten Kitchen really nailed this one. These brownies have a chewy, candy-like top and are dense and moist without being too fudge-like. The only tweak I made to her recipe was using dark cocoa powder, which makes for a dark and impressive looking treat.

dark chocolate cocoa powder brownies

Top these off with confectioner’s sugar and cut them into serving sizes that are much too large for the average human. The recipe suggests 16 or 25 squares. Ahem.

fudgy browniesOne bite and all of your troubles will melt away. I ate one while I waited for roadside assistance to arrive to change my tire, because of course the bolts were too tight to remove with a normal tire wrench. I’m pretty sure I was in some sort of dark chocolate induced coma by the time the gentleman got here.

brownie packageI gave some to my neighbors who laughed at us in the parking lot. The perfect package!

Dark Chocolate Cocoa Brownies


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides
  3. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water
  4. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test
  5. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot
  6. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon
  7. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one
  8. 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
  9. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  10. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes
  11. Let cool completely on a rack
  12. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board
  13. Cut into 16 or 25 squares (or 9 because YOLO!)
  14. Lightly dust with confectioner's sugar

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

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