Easy Cocoa Brownies

Easy cocoa brownies are chewy on the inside with a perfectly crunchy top “crust.”

An easy cocoa brownie recipe with a soft, gooey center and crunchy topping that can be made with little helping hands just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Cocoa Brownies

This past holiday was the first time in at least twelve years that I didn’t make brownies to include in holiday cookie tins. A couple of people noticed their absence, and I really can’t defend myself other than to say my normal go-to holiday brownie is a bit high maintenance and time consuming (these dark chocolate peppermint brownies are however, quite easy and fast). I was in the middle of finishing up important projects before I left for vacation and quite frankly didn’t have the time to do it all.

After returning home from our annual trip to New York City over Christmas, I thought I would make an attempt to make it up to those who were missing my normal fudgy brownie… except I still didn’t want to get into something so labor intensive. So, like any lazy person, I spent several days researching brownies on the internet to get a sense of how other people make their so-called easy brownies. I read on one popular baking blog that it’s impossible to achieve crispy tips on brownies when you only use cocoa powder, and as you can see, that is not the case. Point for doing research and proving someone else wrong.

An easy cocoa brownie recipe with a soft, gooey center and crunchy topping that can be made with little helping hands just in time for Valentine’s Day.

My take on an easy brownie has only 7 ingredients, can easily be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon like they did in the good old days before stand mixers were a thing, and use high-quality cocoa powder in place of chopped chocolate. The result? A deliciously cocoa-flavored brownie that is prepped and baked in less than 40 minutes with a perfectly soft but still chewy center, and a crunchy topping that’s almost like a crust, but way better.

Even though this brownie recipe is a little too late to be a Christmas brownie, it’s just in time for Valentine’s Day… especially if you’re the kind of person who despises fruit in your chocolate. Since these brownies call for natural cocoa powder, you still might notice some fruity flavors, but don’t worry, it’s barely noticeable and adds an unexpected element to what is ultimately an incredibly simple brownie recipe.

An easy cocoa brownie recipe with a soft, gooey center and crunchy topping that can be made with little helping hands just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Initially, I was tempted to cut into these babies while they were still slightly warm. Don’t do it. They’re too moist and will simply crumble into a thousand pieces, making them a bit of a hassle to serve. Instead, wait until they’re completely cool to the touch before slicing into 16 or so squares. Or at least into shapes somewhat resembling squares. If you want to serve them warm, slice them before hand, put them onto individual serving plates that are oven-safe and rewarm them just prior to serving. With a generous scoop of pecan ice cream perhaps…

If you make this recipe, take a picture and post it on Instagram using #insolenceandwinerecipes to share the results with everyone!



Cocoa Brownie Ingredients & Baking Instructions

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325º and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to overhang on two sides. (This will help you remove the brownies from the pan.)

  2. In the top of a double boiler over simmering, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, butter and salt. Stir the mixture periodically, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the double boiler from the saucepan, and cool slightly.

  3. While the mixture is still warm, whisk in the vanilla, followed by the eggs one at a time. Once the batter is smooth and thick, add the flour and whisk until you can no longer see any flour. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out slightly moist with batter, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

  4. Once the brownies are completely cool, light up the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board and cut into bite size pieces, about 25.