Bittersweet Cocoa Brownies

Brownies made with cocoa powder are softer on the inside than those made with bar chocolate. I like the tart and lively flavor of natural cocoa powder here; Dutch-processed gives a mellower flavor. Try both types to see which you like best.

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Servings: 16
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    2 1/4  ounces 
    (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
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    1 1/3  cups 
    granulated sugar
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    1/2  teaspoon 
    pure vanilla extract
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    1/4  teaspoon 
    table salt
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    5   ounces 
    (10 tablespoons) hot melted unsalted butter
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    cold large eggs
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    1 1/2  ounces 
    (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
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    1   cup 
    broken walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan (preferably metal) with foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt, and hot melted butter with a hand mixer or with vigorous strokes of a whisk. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until the batter is thick and lightened in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir with a rubber spatula just until blended. Fold in the nuts, if using. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until the top is puffed and slightly crusted and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little fudge batter clinging to it, 28 to 30 minutes.
Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Lift the ends of the foil to remove them. Invert the brownies on a tray and peel off the foil. Turn the brownies right side up on a cutting board and cut into squares (wipe the knife between each cut, as the brownies will be soft and sticky).
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