I know a lot of people who say they prefer box mix brownies to homemade brownies. I’ve never understood those people, but I’m willing to admit the Ghirardelli triple chocolate box mix brownies are pretty delicious.
With a relatively small amount of flour and minimal leavener, these brownies from the Vanilla Bean Baking Book are ultra-fudgy inside with a delicate crackly top. Everything people love in a classic box brownie, but these are better than box mix brownies, and they are practically as easy to make.
First, you melt together the butter and chopped bittersweet chocolate (I did this in my microwave – it took about 2 minutes, nuking the chocolate and butter for 30 seconds, stirring for 30 seconds, and repeating until just melted).
Once they’re melted together, you add the cocoa powder and whisk it in until the mixture is smooth.
As that’s cooling, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whip together four eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable (or canola) oil, both sugars, and the vanilla extract for about 40-45 seconds. The mixture should look thick and shiny. That’s it! You’re done.
Bake the brownies for between 22-27 minutes, until you see the top beginning to crackle and look glossy. For me, this took 26-27 minutes, and I only saw one real crack, but I was afraid of overbaking the brownies. As the brownies cool, the top will continue to crackle.
Better than Box Mix Brownies
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick; 113 grams) unsalted butter cold
- 8 ounces (226 grams) bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 1/4 cup (25 grams) cocoa powder Dutch process
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking pan and line it with a parchment sling (the parchment should overhand the sides on the long ends so it's easy to lift out).
In a medium saucepan or in the top of a double boiler, melt the butter and chopped bittersweet chocolate over medium-low heat. [Alternatively, you could do this in the microwave, running it on 30 second bursts until the chocolate is melted.] Once the chocolate and butter are both melted and smooth, remove the pan from the heat, add the cocoa powder, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla, for about 40-45 seconds until the volume increases and the batter is shiny and smooth. Whisking constantly, pour in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and gently fold it into the batter with a spatula until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 22 to 27 minutes. The brownies are done when the sides have set, the top begins to crackle and look glossy, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs. [The toothpick should have wet batter on it, but it should have quite a few crumbs clinging to it.]
Transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Lift the brownies from the pan using the parchment paper sling. Let them cool completely, cut them into squares, and serve.
Brownies will keep for 3 days stored in an airtight container.
Variation peanut butter brownies • Take ¾ cup of creamy peanut butter and drop it in circles over the brownie batter before baking. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, drag the peanut butter through the top of the batter, making swirls. Bake as directed.