It’s nice to have go-to recipes you can pull into service on those days when you’ve been invited somewhere for dinner, or someone could use a little cheering, or you want to score a few brownie points with your editors/doctor/teachers. Most of the time, I’d choose a brownie over a cake or cookie. But it has to be the right kind of brownie – dense and fudgy, with a crackly top. Generally I prefer no nuts in mine, nor chocolate chunks or chips, or even frosting. I like my brownies straight up, preferably warm, straight from the pan.
And besides being the ideal chocolate delivery vehicle, a pan of brownies is the sort of thing you can stir together quickly and bake, cool for a few minutes, then lift out using the edges of parchment as handles, cut into squidgy squares and plop right onto the dinner table. No plate required. (Cold milk is nice, though.)
Cocoa brownies are a step easier, but no lesser a brownie than those made with melted chocolate. These are dense and chewy, intensely chocolatey – the recipes Epicurious and Bon Appétit both claim to be the best are essentially the same, and nearly identical to one I have written on a decades-old recipe card.