How to Make Better Brownies

How to Make Better Brownies

Mar 10, 2023Dennis Weaver
There are two keys to better brownies and chocolate cakes.  The first is straightforward. the second, is not so much.
Use better cocoa.  I mean better than the cocoa you'll find in the grocery stores. Grocery stores compete on price. You're not likely to find really good cocoa in your grocery store. We'll  help you find better cocoa in a moment.
The second is use more cocoa. People love chocolate. Most recipes don't call for enough. But you can't just add cocoa. You have to maintain a balance.

How much chocolate is too much chocolate?

Once upon a time, we tried to answer that. We went to big name sites, like Martha Stewart, and better cookbooks and analyzed their recipes: how much chocolate are they using? They were all over the map. Some had 20%; some had nearly 50%. There was no "right answer."
So, we tried to find our own answer.
In preparation for baking class one evening, we made batch after batch of brownies, each with more cocoa than the one before. That evening, we cut them into bite-sized brownies and passed them around. After each btch, we asked the class who thought they were chocolatey enough who thought they needed more. Initially, nearly everyone thought that they needed more chocolate.
As the brownies became more chocolatey with more cocoa, the majority dwindled. But it was really hard to satiate that class. They liked a ridiculous amount of chocolate. But we were using very good, imported cocoa.

We've been designating recipes and developing products for over 20 years now.  People like good chocolate and they like a lot of chocolate. I'm confident of that.
That doesn't mean the individuals don't have their taste preferences.
Merri Ann and I are chocoholics but our tastes in chocolate vary. I like deep chocolate but it needs to be sweet chocolate. She can handle bitter chocolate. And I like milk chocolate and deep, dark chocolate equally—but it has to be sweet enough.

We can customize our chocolate desserts, changing chocolate or adding more chocolate or adjusting the sweetness.

Almost every night, Merri Ann—my wife—and I snuggle up on the couch, with a little chocolate, and watch a TV show—not a movie, but an hour show like “Blue Bloods” or “Rookie” with the commercials deleted. That’s a nice way to end the day.

But it better be good chocolate. And store-bought chocolate goodies are often not that good. What you bake can be much better . . . and you can customize it.

Choose your cocoa.

There is really good cocoa and then there is just cocoa. The difference is amazing. We have never found really good cocoa that didn't have at least twice the cocoa butter found in the store.

Store cocoa has 8-10% cocoa butter. Our milk chocolate (medium) has 16-18%. Our dark cocoas have 22-24%!

Check the reviews. It makes a dramatic difference in everything you bake.

Both dark cocoas are rich and dark. The medium dark is more like milk chocolate but it’s still richer than most milk chocolates.

If it needs more chocolate, add more.

Add more chocolate. Most recipes can handle more chocolate if your cocoa is good enough. We did a survey of reputable recipes and found them to have from 11% cocoa to 38% cocoa.

Because cocoa contains starch, it absorbs moisture. Consequently, when you add cocoa to a recipe, you must reduce the flour. Reduce the amount of flour by 1/3 cup for each 1/2 cup of cocoa.

Adjust the sugar

I like chocolate desserts with a lot of chocolate but I don’t like bitter chocolate. So, I add sugar with the extra cocoa. Taste the batter to see if it’s sweet enough for you.

Merri Ann, on the other hand, can handle bitter chocolate. So, she may be fine without any added sugar.


Favorite Chocolate Goodies

Legendary Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is the same as the fabulous desserts served in fine restaurants! And it really doesn’t have any flour. But it’s made a in a facility that uses flour and so there is little flour dust in the air but with no flour added. Merri Ann is gluten free and she can eat this cake.

Double Chocolate Fudgy Cookies

These are moist and chewy, almost like a brownie. They’re deep chocolate with lots of dark cocoa but sweet enough that they are rich and smooth and loaded with plenty of chocolate chips.

Cranberry Fudge Healthy Cookies

This is a healthier cookie that tastes great! It's made with whole-grain flour, a mixture of rolled grains (including rolled oats), and our best cocoa. It's loaded with cranberries so there's less sugar. Much of the sweetness comes from the cranberries, not from sugar. And he combination of cranberries and chocolate tastes great.


The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

One day in the test kitchen, we started adding the chocolate to brownie recipes–mostly cocoa–to see how much was too much. We doubled and tripled the cocoa until we had a ridiculous amount of cocoa in our recipe.

We took a several batches to a baking class that night.

We asked, “How many think these are too chocolaty?” Three hands came up.

“How many think it’s not chocolaty enough?” Four or five hands went up. The rest of the class thought they were just right.

The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

We recommend Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa or Belcolade Dark Cocoa. Be sure that your cocoa has a high cocoa butter content.


  • 1 cup Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa with 22/24 cocoa butter cocoa or equal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups walnut pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. You will need a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, two mixing bowls—one of them medium or large, and a whisk. The larger bowl should be microwave safe to save you a step. We recommend using parchment paper.
  2. Grease the pan with a little shortening and line it with parchment paper. The shortening will hold the paper in place. Set aside.
  3. In the smaller of the two bowls, whisk the cocoa and flour together to break up any clumps and disperse the cocoa. Set aside.
  4. In the larger of the two bowls, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the sugar and the salt and stir. Add the eggs and the vanilla and stir until mixed.
  5. Add the cocoa and flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Stir until combined. Add the chopped nuts and stir.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan with a spatula and spread the batter evenly. Bake for 25 minutes in a dark pan or until the toothpick comes out fairly clean but with some batter on it. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for five minutes then, grasping the edge of parchment paper and tipping the pan up over a wire rack, pull the cake onto the wire rack. Let cool for at least another five minutes and then slip the cake onto a cutting board for slicing.

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