A few months ago I came across Alice Medrich’s recipe for cocoa brownies, a recipe that has seemed to make its move from blog to blog for a few years already (see here and here and here). What is so intriguing about her recipe is that it contains no chocolate, only cocoa powder, and comes with very precise instructions (including beating the batter vigorously for 40 strokes, using a wooden spoon). I was a bit brownied-out at the time but bookmarked the recipe anyway as I was curious to see how different her recipe would be from my go-to brownie recipe.
Back from our trip to Bali and Singapore and desperate for an excuse to delay tackling the mountain of laundry our trip generated, making these brownies was an easy decision. And while Alice Medrich’s recipe does come with very precise instructions the recipe is at the same time surprisingly simple in not requiring any exotic ingredients and being whipped up in a single bowl.
While the smell of the melting butter and cocoa alone was enough to deter Alessandro from an afternoon nap aimed at finally getting rid of the jet lag, it was my first taste of the brownie batter that made it clear this recipe was something special – the batter basically tastes like the richest velvety chocolate fudge sauce you can imagine and it took a lot of self-control to not pour the batter over some leftover ice cream instead of baking these brownies! While I am generally a bowl-licker, I don’t think I can remember ever enjoying it this much to lick a bowl clean!
Once baked, the brownies are definitely fudgey – so fudgey in fact they almost stick to your teeth – and the crunchy buckwheat groats lend a nice contrast to the ooey gooey-ness of these brownies. In short, these brownies are pure unadulterated chocolate indulgence and I think one of these (even better if still warm) would be the perfect basis for an incredible brownie sundae – maybe even with this toasted buckwheat ice cream that I have been meaning to make! While I was sceptical a cocoa-only brownie could measure up to my favourite brownie recipe, I must admit I may have just found my wholly grail of brownie recipes!
Buckwheat Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
Makes ca. 9 small brownies
Notes: I halved the original recipe and converted it into metric quantities. I also left out the vanilla and instead added 1 teaspoon of ground coffee. Instead of the all-purpose flour the original recipe calls for I used buckwheat flour making these brownies gluten-free (and I also replaced the walnuts with raw buckwheat groats for some extra crunch).
125g cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground coffee
1 pinch of salt
40g buckwheat flour
40g raw buckwheat groats
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a small square pan with parchment paper (mine measures 16x16cm).
2. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa, coffee and salt in a saucepan sat inside a skillet filled with simmering water over low heat (just hot enough to keep the water simmering) and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and feels hot to the touch.
3. Remove the saucepan from the skillet and once the mixture is only warm to the touch add the egg, beating vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny.
4. Add the flour and stir until blended with the other ingredients, then beat the mixture vigorously for 40 strokes using a wooden spoon. Stir in the buckwheat groats then pour the batter into the lined tin and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the brownies are just about set with a shiny and smooth top and a gooey centre. Wait for the brownies to come to room temperature before carefully removing them from the tin and cutting them into squares.