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Hailstorm Brownies

You could call these hailstorm brownies as I have (and will explain later), or - you could call them the fudgiest, chewiest brownies you'll ever eat... also known as the only brownie recipe you will ever need.

That is, of course, assuming all you readers prefer fudge-y brownies to cake-y brownies. I'm not judging you if you prefer cake-y brownies, but let's face the truth here: A cake-y brownie simply isn't a brownie... it's cake (and nobody is stopping you from eating cake). However, if you want a brownie true to its brownie roots, this is the recipe for you.

Let's start with the name. I have these sudden urges every now and then to make brownies -- no other baked good will do. Wednesday night was one of those nights, and the entire day had been stormy. (Stormy nights make for pretty wonderful baking nights, btw.) And in my tiny apartment, the oven heat is an excuse to open the window and patio door, which is lovely to begin with - but amidst a thunderstorm in the Flatirons of Boulder, it's about as lovely as lovely gets. Before you know it, massive balls of hail suddenly replace cracks of thunder, which was terrifying at first - smashing upon gutters and against metal rails - but after a while, it was therapeutic. And I thought it only appropriate to name the brownies after the experience, especially while topping them off with those flakes of sea salt.

Now let's talk about the ingredients. Or just one of them, really. Or, actually, the lack of ingredient: your typical chocolate for browniez. That's right, everybody: no chocolate chips, no chocolate chunks, no baking bars. Only cocoa powder and espresso powder. So yes - technically and obviously there's chocolate (who do you think I am, one of those people who makes brownies using dates or avocados? Gross), only not the sort I grew up with while making brownies with Mom. I usually thought the best brownies were packed with hunks of chocolate, or began with a step of melting down the chocolate with the butter. Nope, nope, nope.

Nope. I was wrong. The best brownies are these -- not only because they're magically chewy, but also because they taste like pure, utter, unbelievably chocolatey chocolate. So don't be afraid of a brownie recipe without chocolate chips. Trust me.


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/4 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cold eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Flaked salt (for topping)


Preheat oven to 325. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil or spray with cooking spray.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, cocoa, espresso powder and salt in a medium saucepan over very low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot, not boiling, but just enough for you to remove your finger quickly when touching it. The mixture will be thick and grainy - that’s okay. Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside briefly until the mixture is just warm.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir, then beat vigorously for 20 seconds. Spread evenly in the lined or greased pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges with a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board, or cut directly from pan if not using paper.

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