Your Best Brownies are Missing One Secret Ingredient—Espresso
I consider brownies to be a great baking equalizer. You don't need to visit the local bakery to get a great brownie (although bakery brownies are, in my experience, consistently fantastic). In just 30 minutes, you can whip up a batch from home.
Now, there are some people who swear that boxed brownies are the definitive best. As a professional baker, I'm of the opinion that homemade is the way to go. Brownies don't take much more time to make from scratch than they do from a boxed mix (Ivy Odom's recipe for her Best-Ever Brownies requires just 15 minutes of active time).
Plus, when you're making brownies from scratch, you can control the proportions and quality of each and every ingredient. This means that you can decide whether you want to use dark or milk chocolate, natural or Dutch process cocoa powder, white or brown sugar. Each of these factors will affect the final product, allowing you to engineer your ideal brownie.
My ideal brownie looks a little something like this: a fudgy center, a crackly top, and a deep, dark chocolate flavor. In my line of work, I've made thousands of brownies; if I'm going to make a batch for myself, I'm going all-out—I want it to be rich, decadent, and full of chocolate. Through my years of extensive brownie recipe testing, I discovered a secret ingredient that heightens the chocolatey flavor of the brownies: espresso.
Caffeinated brownies might sound a little crazy, but hear me out. Coffee and chocolate pair extraordinarily well together. Adding a small quantity of espresso powder to your brownies enhances the flavor of the chocolate, adding additional richness and depth. Now, don't worry: You're not adding enough espresso powder to really taste the coffee flavor (or get a caffeine buzz). In our recipe for Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies, we mix two tablespoons of instant espresso granules in with the melted chocolate and sugar.
If you're still in the market for a perfect brownie recipe, we can't recommend our Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies enough. If you already have a favorite brownie recipe, try adding one to two tablespoons of instant espresso in with the wet ingredients. If you're making brownies from a boxed mix, you can substitute brewed coffee for the water, or simply add espresso powder in with the dry ingredients.