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making brownies

Recipe: rocky road brownies

No – not the way Cartman refers to… I’m talking about literally making brownies.

Never really satisfied with that earlier experiment of fudgy versus chewy brownies, I was flipping through some old issues of Chocolatier the other day and found brownie recipes worthy of a kitchen test. In my youth (back in 1994) I subscribed to Chocolatier because I liked baking with chocolate. I found I was mostly in over my head with that magazine. I tried again in 2000 and the same thing happened. Mind you, their other publication is Pastry Art and Design, if that’s any hint. I’m glad I hung on to those issues though, because now that I have perused the recipes, the three truffle (most difficult) ratings look to be on par with the more advanced stuff I did in pastry class. I mean to say – they are now within my ability level, and that feels pretty good!

marshmallows dusted in flour and cocoa

I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with brownies because the majority of recipes call for cocoa powder and little to no solid chocolate. I personally don’t consider those to be brownies. I don’t really like brownies, but I have this notion in my head of what a real brownie is: dense, dark, moist, heavy, very chocolaty… decadent. So I tried three recipes today: rocky road, dark chocolate, and cream cheese. Cream cheese brownies are actually a recipe from Baker’s chocolate, but I made an adjustment for our elevation which improved the brownies tremendously over the last several attempts.

rocky road brownie batter ready for the oven

Chocolatier is written for pastry people – for people who pay attention to detail and are a little (or a lot) obsessive about it. DON’T whisk the eggs and sugar too much or the incorporated air will destroy the texture. DO sift your dry ingredients TWICE and DON’T overmix. DON’T mix the chocolate and butter while hot. DO exercise patience and let the brownies cool completely and DO refrigerate them in the pan for two hours before cutting. Most folks would dig in the minute they’re out of the oven, but most folks aren’t worried about presentation and delivery. I’m not most folks.

dark chocolate brownie batter – thick and glossy the way it should be

cream cheese brownie batter

I like brownie batter to be thick and loaded so that you have to cram it into the corners of the pan because it won’t go of its own accord. My elevation adjustments leave out leavening, reduce the sugar, and add a little flour. I made four batches of brownies (a double of the cream cheese) and they all came out great. I think they could use a little more cooking, but that’s a tough call because the edges get a little dried out and I think a good edge is more important that a slightly gooey center.

cream cheese brownie, dark chocolate brownie, rocky road brownie

rocky road is made with macadamia nuts

So preliminary taste testers Jeremy, Tom and Kellie, and Marcus and the kids (as I refuse to eat a single one right now) seem to like them all. However when forced to rank them, Jeremy’s favorite is the rocky road. Tom sort of mmm mmm mmmm and mmm’d through all three types so that was a little inconclusive.

Since I modified the Rocky Road recipe from Chocolatier’s Chunky Coconut and Macadamia Nut Brownies (November 2000), I’ll give you my version for sea level:

Rocky Road Kick Ass Brownies
[print recipe]

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 large marshmallows, cut into 8ths
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid (use gentle heat)
4 large eggs
2 cups superfine sugar
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts (plus extra for topping)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9x9x2-inch pan with butter or nonstick spray. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt on a sheet of wax paper. Toss the marshmallow pieces with 2 teaspoons the sifted mixture (you will need to pull the sticky guys apart to coat each one individually). Whisk melted butter and melted chocolate in mixing bowl until well-combined. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs for 1 minute. Add sugar and whisk for 45 seconds until just incorporated (do not whisk in air). Blend in the butter-chocolate mixture. Blend in the vanilla. Sift the flour mixture over the wet ingredients and slowly stir it in until flour is absorbed. Stir in the marshmallows and mac nuts. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth. Sprinkle extra mac nuts on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set. Cool brownies completely in pan. Refrigerate brownies for 2 hours. Cut brownies into serving sizes.

16 nibbles at “making brownies”

  1. Jim says:

    Oh my. From personal preference I’d have to say I prefer the dark chocolate brownie, but they all look A-MAZING. Now I feel ashamed for using a box mix recently.

  2. jenyu says:

    nah, don’t feel ashamed, some of the box mixes are quite good. i’ve heard (shhh – don’t let this out) that some pastry folks use box cake mixes in wedding cakes because they taste great and are less temperamental :)

  3. Patricia Scarpin says:

    This is food porn.

  4. Bianca says:

    Oh my goodness they all look amazing.

  5. Hillary says:

    Uhhh there might be drool on my keyboard from this post. Wowww do I want brownies now. They all look FANtastic. Wouldn’t even be able to pick if I tried…

  6. Rob @ I love substance says:

    wait wait, how is anyone supposed to stay on a diet with these amazing photos? Im out the door right now to go shopping for ingredients to bake these up!

  7. ABaron says:

    Hello, Jenny: I stumbled upon your site AFTER making a batch of candied orange peel….wish I had found it sooner!

    Now that I’m perusing through all of it, I wonder if you have – or could – develop a recipe for brownies that I remember fondly from my youth. I grew up in Hawaii and went to Kamehameha School for Girls on Oahu which was FAMOUS for its brownies! In fact, other high schools LOVED coming to our school for intramurals just to have our famous brownies!
    I have written to the school several times and was told that the bakers are no longer available from the 60’s! and no one has the “old” recipe. Their “new” recipe is a fudge concoction! I tried to develop a recipe reminiscent of THE FAMOUS BROWNIES, but to avail.

    The brownies were crackled on the top….dusted w/powdered sugar…….kinda chewy in the center ….. with big pieces of walnuts. It was not fudgy or candy-like, nor cake-like. If you broke it apart, the crackled top would lift up….. it was not “wet” and did not have a cake “crumb”. It inside looked “normal” – not wet or dry – but was kind of “chewy” and did not “melt in your mouth”. Since I do not know which ingredients or quantities will produce what results, I have not been successful in duplicating these.

    Since the kitchen staff cooked and baked (3 meals a day) for a large, boarding student body, I doubt they used Top Quality ingredients nor sophisticated methods. The cooks were primarily asian who followed the dietitian’s menu and direction.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks so much.

  8. jenyu says:

    Annette – I’m sorry, hon. I probably know less about brownies than you do at this point. I know how you feel in your search for a long lost recipe. The best thing I can recommend is either trying to hunt down someone else who might have known the recipe or just keep experimenting around until you get what you’re looking for? Best of luck.

  9. Blest1iam says:

    Hi, I stumbled across your brownies just for searching homemade. I was looking specifically for Rocky Road Brownies and yours looks the best by far. I can’t wait to try it and treat my co-workers.

    Thank you so much for posting.
    God bless you richly in Jesus’ name!
    Sherry a.k.a. Blest1iam

  10. naomi says:

    hi i was wondering why you have to wait for the butter to cool before combining with the chocolate?

  11. jenyu says:

    Naomi – I honestly don’t know. I have just seen it recommended on several brownie recipes as I think it may affect the texture of the brownies. That’s my guess!

  12. sb says:


    i’m a new transplant to the beaver creek area; could you give me your high altitude variation? i was hoping to make them for work tomorrow (but will settle for the intense brownies if need be). thanks!

  13. jenyu says:

    SB – based on my typical adjustments, I would say omit the baking powder, use all purpose flour, and add a tbsp or 2 more of flour. But reference the intense brownies recipe too. I see there I reduced butter by about a tbsp and reduce sugar by about 1 tbsp too. I can’t guarantee anything though. Sorry!

  14. nikita says:

    i made these!!!! for my best friends birthday :) she lovedd them! thankyou :D

  15. Jill from Detroit says:

    I know you posted this over 10 years ago but reading your reference to Chocolatier Magazine really made my day. I subscribed from 1985-1988. I still have those magazines and still make an Incredible chocolate cake for very special birthdays from the 1985 vol. 8 issue. In it I learned how to make ganache and a mocha swiss buttercream used as a filling between layers.
    I, too, am very opinionated as to what makes a good brownie. I like the Baker’s chocolate recipe (real melted chocolate) and add a cup of chopped pecans to it. I made 150 brownies and gave them away as favors at my daughter’s wedding. The current recipe on their web-site uses no leavening. Might work for high altitude baking. I’m close to sea level so don’t have to worry about those issues.

  16. jenyu says:

    Jill – Thanks for the recommendation!! xoxo

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