Some say the best brownies are the ones you have in front of you. That may be true, which is why so many recipes are called "the best". This is one of them. Originally from Allrecipes.com where last I checked they had over 10,000 reviews, these are the quintessential American brownies. They're good frosted or unfrosted, with or without nuts and not terribly expensive since the recipe calls for cocoa powder rather than chocolate.
Adding a Little Oil
People like to change up the recipe, and that's great. Still, you have to be careful because reducing the sugar, using extra-large eggs or overbeating the batter before the flour is added will make them cake-y. One change that I think really does improve the brownies is to use 2 tablespoons of oil in place of 2 tablespoons of the butter. If you don't have any oil, don't worry about it. But it does make the brownies a little chewier. Also, I add it after the sugar and cocoa so that it will not cool down the hot butter, which blooms the cocoa a bit and melts the sugar.
Frosting Best Brownies
As for the frosting, these could go with or without it, but if you use the recipe that goes with the original, you'll probably need to make some changes. The first time I made the icing I didn't use any milk. Yuck, here's what they looked like with the gross no-milk icing.
The second go-round I added some whole milk and the frosting was much better, though still pretty darn sweet.
So if you like nuts and have some around, I recommend adding the nuts to cut the sweetness a bit.
One Saucepan or One Bowl
I recently updated the technique a bit so that you can stir the whole recipe together in a saucepan or in one large microwave-safe mixing bowl.
How to Make Classic American Style Brownies
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line an 8-inch square pan with foil. Grease.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, then add cocoa powder and sugar to the hot butter.
- Stir in oil, vanilla and eggs.
- Add the very small amounts of salt and baking powder.
- Add flour and stir until blended, then add optional nuts or chips.
- Pour in the pan and bake until done. This should take around 25 minutes, but with brownies and different ovens there's often trial and error. Let cool completely.
- Lift from and and cut into squares.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (use 8 if omitting oil) (84 grams)
- ⅓ cup unsweetened natural style cocoa powder (30 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs (90 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt omit if using salted butter
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (65 grams)
- ⅓ cup toasted walnuts optional
- ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips optional
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar 95 grams
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt omit if using salted butter
- 1-3 tablespoons whole milk that's been warmed or is at room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with nonstick foil (or use regular foil and spray with cooking spray).
- In a large (3 quart) saucepan, melt the butter over medium or medium low heat. Alternatively, you can do this in a microwave-safe mixing bowl.
- Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder and sugar to the warm butter. Stir well, then stir in the oil and vanilla until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring with a spoon or scraper until blended. Add the salt and baking powder and stir until blended, the add the flour and beat by hand about 30 strokes. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips.
- Transfer to the pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until set, then let cool at room temperature.
- To make frosting, combine the butter and honey in a mixing bowl. Sift together the cocoa powder and sugar, then add to the honey and butter mixture, beating until blended. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt if needed. Using a hand held mixer, beat in the milk one tablespoon at a time until icing is very soft. Spread over the warm brownies. Let the brownies cool completely, then chill if desired.
- Lift from pan and cut into squares.