Chewy edges yield to delightfully creamy insides and a “just right” chocolate flavor in these Nutella-infused brownies…and the recipe fills a 9×13 pan!
Most years, I kick off the unofficial start to summer with some sort of ice cream treat. Because I’m making a slight deviation this year, I have two words for those who share my affinity for this cold, refreshing treat: brownie sundae!
In the early weeks of quarantine, we kept count of the number of brownie batches that came out of our oven. Somewhere along the way, however, we lost track.
My older son, John, deserves credit (or perhaps blame!) for rekindling my family’s appreciation of this classic treat.
John and I whipped up the first batch at the request of one of his friends who is working on a cookbook and needed some recipe testers. Dare I say these were the most decadently dense, chewy brownies I have ever tasted. As soon as the last crumb was devoured, John made another batch.
From there, we moved on to a variety of tried-and-true family favorites with regular blondie appearances and an occasional healthy-ish stand-in, which happens to be egg-free. Did I mention homemade Tandy Cakes－or Kandy Kakes, depending on when and where you grew up? (If enough people would like to try that recipe, I’ll happily share.)
Tasty treats and baking with the kids, it seems, makes quarantine a lot more fun!
The following recipe is yet another we’ve returned to over and over (and over) again. On the scale of sweet to bitter, the chocolate flavor lies somewhere between milk and semi-sweet.
The true glory of these brownies, however, lies in their texture. For lack of a better description, these brownies have a creamy quality that is utterly dreamy and perfectly balances the chewy edges. A modest infusion of Nutella is to thank.
I cut a reasonable size piece and truly savor every bite. My kids take decidedly larger pieces and occasionally opt for that aforementioned brownie sundae!
Some here enjoy their brownies cold from the fridge, while others prefer the softer nature of a room temperature treat. Either way, the flavor improves overnight and they become easier to cut, too. (If you want to cut the brownies soon after baking, I recommend cooling enough to transfer to the refrigerator to chill further. Even if you prefer to ultimately store the brownies at room temperature, this will expedite the initial firming-up process.)
I should mention that we first sampled these brownies at one of Christian’s cross country invitationals last year. Word of their deliciousness traveled quickly and they were quickly devoured despite being labeled “gluten-free.” (The brownies can be made with regular flour as well.) In the days following the meet, there was extensive emailing among team parents in an effort to track down the source of this mouthwatering treat!
Full credit goes to Heather Smith, who created the recipe for her family and graciously shared. She’s made these brownies for many a school bake sale and sporting event. The big yield is a plus, and she always uses gluten-free flour to provide an option for those with an allergy or intolerance. Their reputation precedes them, however, as the gluten-eaters buy them, too.
I recommend using a metal baking pan, and I like to line my baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. (I love these perfectly-sized sheets. Just fold along the edges and crease the corners.) While optional, the parchment makes it easy to lift the brownies out of the pan for cleaner cutting. Cleanup is easier, too.
As mentioned, make sure to fully cool the brownies before removing; if they’re warm, they’ll be soft and will likely break when lifting them out of the pan. For added ease when removing as well as cleaner cutting, I usually refrigerate the brownies briefly once they’ve cooled. Not that anyone wants to wait, but I’ve also noticed that the flavor improves after an overnight rest.
As an added note, although the brownies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, refrigeration will prolong freshness. Also, when chocolate chips are added, the cold morsels add a welcome element of crunch.
- 1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free cup-for-cup substitute*
- ½ cup (40g) cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s regular, not Dutched)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
- 2 cups (384g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup (74g) Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350℉, and grease a 9×13 baking pan or line it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. (It’s ok if it’s not thoroughly blended at this point.) Set aside.
In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, blend the softened butter, sugar and vanilla for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one. (When blending, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.) Partially incorporate the Nutella, and then add the dry ingredients. (I do this in two additions, stirring slowly at first, to avoid a big poof of flour.) Mix until blended, taking care not to over-mix at this point.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and then bake for 25-30 depending on oven and how “done” you like your brownies. (In my oven, 25 minutes is perfect, and this results in somewhat firm edges and a tender but just-cooked center.)
*When using a gluten-free flour substitute, I have had better results when using the weight of all-purpose flour as opposed to the often-heavier GF variety. (For instance, Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour weighs 20 grams more per cup than standard all-purpose flour, and I think this difference can create a heavier outcome in GF baked goods.)
Option: Those who enjoy the addition of chocolate chips, chunks, or nuts may add ½ to 1 cup to the batter. In my last batch, I sprinkled a scant ½ cup of chocolate chunks over the top before baking. For a salty-sweet touch, I have also reduced the salt in the batter to ¼ teaspoon and then sprinkled ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt over the surface before baking.
Storing: The brownies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, although refrigeration will prolong freshness. Tightly wrapped, the brownies will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator and freeze well, too.