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Asking me to eat a brownie isn’t a hard sell — especially when “glossy” and “fudge” are part of the promise. The brains behind this brownie recipe is Stella Parks, although you may know her as BraveTart. She’s a dessert mastermind whose experience as a pastry chef and cookbook author brings out the very best in classic American desserts.
Out of all the brownie recipes out there, Parks’ recipe for Glossy Fudge Brownies is the one I hear about the most. This is impressive, considering it’s been more than three years since the release of her cookbook (where the recipe originated), but perhaps not surprising — the Serious Eats subreddit is filled with posts about the brownies. The subreddit has such a kinship for this recipe; in fact, that they’re simply known as “Stella’s Brownies” or sometimes just “The Brownies.” You can take a look at all the posts about them here.
With my cookie jar bare and a strong desire for a sweet treat, it was time to put Stella’s recipe to the test. Would these high-effort, indulgent brownies deliver? I headed to the kitchen to find out.
How To Make BraveTart’s Glossy Fudge Brownies
BraveTart’s brownies begin with brown butter. Once the water evaporates from the butter, leaving it golden with flecks of toasted milk solids, you’ll whisk in finely chopped chocolate. Parks calls for good-quality dark chocolate, and advices against chips, which aren’t dark enough and contain stabilizers and other ingredients you don’t need or want for this recipe. Set the butter-chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.
Next, pull out your stand mixer and whip the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, espresso powder, and salt. As the sugars dissolve and air is incorporated, the mixture will turn thick, fluffy, and cream-colored. With the mixer still going, slowly pour in the butter-chocolate mixture, followed by sifted high-quality Dutch cocoa powder and all-purpose flour. Pour the brownie batter into a foil-lined aluminum baking pan and bake until the brownies are shiny and set.
My Honest Review of Stella Parks’ Brownies
These brownies are not the quick, one-bowl treat you whip up on a whim for a last-minute dessert. No, these brownies make a statement. The flavor is more intense and chocolatey than any brownie I’ve ever eaten, and the texture was spot-on, with fudgy center squares and chewier edge pieces.
I’ll admit I was initially skeptical that browning the butter would make much difference under the weight of both chopped dark chocolate and Dutch cocoa powder. In my review of blondies, a dessert more likely to benefit from the toasted flavors of browned butter, I actually preferred a recipe that called for melted but not browned butter. But much to my surprise, the nutty brown butter in this recipe adds nuance, and softens the bitter edge of the dark chocolate.
I was also intrigued that Parks relies on the creamy whipped concoction of sugars and eggs to lightly leaven the brownies — a departure from other brownie methods that simply require stirring with a spatula. But it totally worked!
BraveTart also recommends a type of Dutch cocoa powder (meaning it’s undergone alkali treatment) with a higher fat content than grocery store powders. I ordered it online and was struck by the cocoa’s velvety soft texture and chocolatey aroma. If there’s ever a time to experiment with higher quality ingredients, this is it.
So did these brownies deliver? Absolutely yes. They were everything I could have hoped for and then some. Glossy, papery-thin top? Check. Fudgy, chewy, and supremely chocolatey? Check, check, check.