These easy, homemade, from scratch cocoa chocolate brownies are delightfully chewy with a hint of fudginess which will have you surprised that they are made using only cocoa powder and no chocolate! These are called my best ever cocoa brownies because they whip up in a snap from pantry staples.
The Original Chocolate Brownie
The original recipe was sent to me from my sister, with a list of ingredients and instructions which read - melt butter, mix everything and bake, over a Whatsapp message. And this recipe has been a staple ever since.
However, I was watching a Try Guys video and knew I needed to improve on this very basic brownie recipe. I dove deep into the brownie world, reading recipes, watching videos, and comparing my recipe to others.
My goals (which I think I have met) for my new improved ultimate brownie included:
- An easy brownie recipe
- A crackly top
- Cocoa powder only...no chocolate!
- A nice chewy, yet a slightly fudgy brownie texture
What You Need for this Recipe
This recipe requires an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square cake pan or brownie tin, a whisk, mixing bowls and baking paper.
I did not change any of the ingredients in the recipe my sister gave me, except that I increased the ratio so that it would fit into my 9″x9″ tin, which seems to be the most universal brownie tin size.
Butter, salted butter in particular is what I used. I prefer baking with butter instead of margarine. Butter is always better!
Caster or granulated sugar so as to not compete with the cocoa flavour. But – when I have only had brown sugar in the house, I have used it and it works!
Instant coffee to enhance the cocoa flavour. This is optional.
Vanilla extract is to baking what salt is to seasoning savour dishes. Use it. It makes it better.
Salt – yes, you need salt in this recipe, even if you use salted butter. Trust me. From watching hundreds of videos from the greatest pastry chefs and bakers out there…salt makes a dish. It is especially good when paired with sugar and cocoa powder.
Eggs – this recipe calls for 4 eggs. It’s the perfect amount of eggs. Eggs should be at room temperature before baking.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is the only ingredient adding to the chocolate flavour here. Choose wisely. My personal favourite brand of cocoa powder in New Zealand is Nestle Baker’s Choice and Cadbury's Cocoa Powder. I find the other Cocoa powders very bitter. My favourite cocoa powder in South Africa is the Woolworths brand. Dutch-processed cocoa is the way to go for my friends in the rest of the world.
Flour – just use plain or standard grade flour. For gluten-free cocoa chocolate brownies, I recommend Edmond’s plain gluten-free flour.
NOTE - these brownies are made without baking powder.
Salt is a crucial ingredient in all baked goods. I use table salt in all my recipes. One teaspoon of table salt equals 1.5 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt equals 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
Making Cocoa Chocolate Brownies
The method in the making of the chocolate brownies is essential to obtaining the crackly top, with a chewy, fudgy centre!
1 - Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Grease and line the 8x8 or 9x9 square tin.
2 - Melt the butter in the microwave. Add in the sugar, and whisk together, pop the mixture back into the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Then whisk furiously, repeat the step 3 times, until you have completely dissolved the sugar and have a thick butter mixture.
3 - Dissolve the coffee and salt and 1-2 tablespoons of warm water, add to the butter mixture and whisk through.
4 - Add in the vanilla extract, add in the eggs one at a time and whisk furiously and vigorously for 2 minutes are each addition. Or, use a handheld electric beater and beat for 3 minutes until the mixture has lightened in colour and looks a bit frothy. I highly recommend taking the handheld electric beater approach. This makes a really nice crackly top.
5 - Mix in the flour and cocoa powder using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until just mixed. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the brownie to cool completely to allow it to set before slicing.
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Pro Tips for this Recipe
Measuring cups and spoons are an essential addition to every kitchen! Not every cup and spoon are made equally and have varying volumes. For accurate measuring invest in a set of measuring cups and spoons to make sure you add the correct amount of an ingredient. When in doubt - always use a level spoon or cup measure using your measuring cups and spoons.
Why weigh ingredients? As said above, not every cup is equal, weighing out ingredients on my end and your end results in more accurate baking.
Ovens: A conventional oven needs to be set at 20°C higher than a fan-forced or convection oven. Oven temperatures are not consistent, the best way to determine if your oven dial is correct is to use an oven thermometer.
Bakeware: Metal bakeware is superior when it comes to baking biscuits, cookies, brownies, muffins and quick bread, scones, cakes. These heat up and cool down faster than glassware. Glassware is heavier, heats up and cools down slower than metal and are more suited for bread puddings, pies, crisps, crumbles and cobblers.
All my recipes are currently tested at sea level.
Storage and Freezing
These brownies can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container for 2 to 3 days.
However, these brownies also freeze really well. Just make sure to wrap them in tin/aluminium foil before placing them into an air-tight container. They can keep in the freezer for 3 months.
Cocoa Brownies FAQ
Personally, I think this is a personal choice. I typically prefer cocoa powder brownies because I always have cocoa powder in the pantry. According to Bon Appetit, Cocoa Powder is the secret to superior brownies.
Cocoa gives the brownies a chewy texture and a nice intense chocolate flavour.
Don't forget to tag me @marylou_saltyginger on Instagram, #saltygingerblog with your renditions of these recipes!
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- 200 grams butter
- 400 grams caster or granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoon instant coffee optional
- 1-2 tablespoons hot water optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt or 1 teaspoon if using unsalted butter
- 4 eggs med-large
- 80 grams cocoa powder
- 110 grams plain or standard grade flour or gluten free flour
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/355F. Grease and line the 8x8 or 9x9 square tin.
- Melt the butter in the microwave. Add in the sugar, and whisk together, pop the mixture back into the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Then whisk furiously, repeat the step 3 times, until you have completely dissolved the sugar and have a thick butter mixture.200 grams butter, 400 grams caster or granulated white sugar
- Dissolve the coffee and salt and 1-2 tablespoons of warm water, add to the butter mixture and whisk through. (If not adding the coffee granules, simply toss the salt into the butter mixture and carry on.)2 teaspoon instant coffee, 1-2 tablespoons hot water, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add in the vanilla extract, add in the eggs one at a time and whisk furiously and vigorously for 2 minutes are each addition. Or, use a handheld electric beater and beat for 3 minutes until the mixture has lightened in colour and looks a bit frothy. I highly recommend taking the handheld electric beater approach. This makes a really nice crackly top.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 eggs
- Mix in the flour and cocoa powder using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until just mixed. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the brownie to cool completely to allow it to set before slicing.110 grams plain or standard grade flour or gluten free flour, 80 grams cocoa powder
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly.