Fudgy Cocoa Walnut Brownies

Who doesn’t love chocolate for Valentine’s Day? I asked Eric what he wanted for the holiday of love, and chocolate was his unhesitating reply! I am actually going to be away this week, visiting my family, but at least I am leaving these brownies for him.

I haven’t made brownies in years, since I’m a cake girl at heart, but last week I had a serious craving for them. Following Alice Medrich’s lead, I used Dutch process cocoa for these, and it makes for a satisfyingly crunchy top with a wonderfully gooey center. The best of both worlds.

And because I am nothing if not consistent, I added a hearty handful of walnuts. A little extra crunch is always a good thing.

Valentine’s Day has never been a big favorite of mine, mostly because I am in accord with the many people who prefer to express their love every day instead of on just one day, but I do take it as an opportunity to be grateful for all that I have: first and foremost, my incredible husband, who is also my best friend, confidante, and partner in crime. Wherever this Valentine’s Day finds you, I hope you have lots to be grateful for too. And also chocolate.

Fudgy Cocoa Walnut Brownies
Recipe from Alice Medrich‘s Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

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

-Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
-Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. 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. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
-Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. 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 you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
-Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
-Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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