my favorite brownies + a giveaway

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I have two exciting things to share with you: this giveaway, for a Vanilla Bean Baking Book apron and tea towel, and a recipe for my favorite brownies found in my cookbook. Yah!

I had some lovely help with these photos; my daughter above, and Ms. Molly Yeh, Melissa Coleman, and Zoe Francois. I got to hang out with them this weekend at Pinch of Yum’s amazing studio to celebrate Molly’s new book, and they were kind enough to let me take a picture of them in my pretty pink apron.
molly apron


To Enter: Pre-order THE VANILLA BEAN BAKING BOOK and enter for a chance to win an apron and tea towel designed to go with the book! 12 winners will receive these lovely and practical (I had to make sure that the aprons have pockets!) kitchen items. Everyone who has pre-ordered my cookbook previously or places an order through Wednesday November 6th is eligible to participate. (Sorry, US and Canada only!) Simply go to this google form here and fill it out.

Extra Entries: Share my photo about the giveaway on Instagram to receive an extra entry! Make sure to use the hashtags #vanillabeanbakingbook and #vanillabeangiveaway to help me track all entries. Thanks!

And now, brownies. I have three favorite brownie recipes: Ina Garten’s outrageous brownies, the famous Baked brownies, and one I have on my site, from America’s Test Kitchen. I wanted a recipe that sort of combined the best elements of each of them. That meant good chocolate flavor, the perfect balance between cakey and fudgy, and a slightly chewy texture (a nod to the boxed brownies of my youth) were all on my list. After six months of testing and tweaking this recipe, I finally baked a perfect pan of brownies.

I know brownies are subjective. Everyone has their own way of loving them, and you may not agree with me on texture here. I understand, we’re all unique individuals. But every time I eat these, I nod my head with a smile, confident that my search for perfection is over.

makes 12 large or 24 small bars


8 tablespoons (1 stick; 113 g) unsalted butter, cold
8 ounces (226 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (25 g) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (99 g) 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 a parchment sling.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the bittersweet chocolate until both are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 22 to 27 minutes, until the sides of the brownies have set, the top is beginning to crackle and look glossy, and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs. The batter on the skewer should not be wet, but should have a good amount of crumbs clinging to it.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment paper sling to gently lift the brownies from the pan. Cut them into squares.

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.

PS The doughnuts that Zoe is holding (pictured above) are dukkah donuts with blood orange glaze from Molly’s new book, and they were amazing.

  • Reply
    Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Sarah, I am so excited for your book! I just preordered a copy and I can’t wait to bake everything from it. I’ve been following your blog for ages and I’ve made sooooo many of your recipes and they are always so fantastic and delicious. And….. I can’t believe we’ve never met in person. Hoping this will change one day soon 😉


  • Reply
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    It sounds like so much fun! And Molly looks so pretty in the apron. I love brownies but I haven’t found the perfect recipe yet. I am excited to try out yours 😀

  • Reply
    Emma Galloway
    Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Yay Sarah! I can’t wait to see your book and also to convert this brownie to gf, it sounds perfect. Much love xx

  • Reply
    Heidi Clark
    Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    The brownies look decadent and the apron is delightful. Do you have a no purchase entry?
    With thanks

  • Reply
    Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Brownies are probably one of my favorite desserts and these look delicious! Your Book will be fabulous!

  • Reply
    Abby | Lace & Lilacs
    Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 11:56 am

    These brownies! That apron! So much love. <3

  • Reply
    Hadley Hauser
    Monday, November 14, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    These look great, I can’t wait to sample the recipe! Brownies would hit the spot tonight 🙂

  • Reply
    Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I made these on Sunday and they are absolutely the best brownies I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are SO GOOD! I can’t wait to make them again.

  • Reply
    In The Know With Coco & Cowe: January 26 - Coco & Cowe
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 8:00 am

    […] And if all else fails, there are always sweet and chocolatey things to make. […]

  • Reply
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe! It really has THE perfect texture out of all the brownies I’ve made in the past. LOVE these brownies 🙂

  • Reply
    Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    I made these with dark brown sugar because I didn’t have any light brown on hand…but definitely need to remake with light brown! The dark brown sugar really competes with the chocolate flavor. Otherwise amazing texture!! Excited to try these again.

  • Reply
    Friday, February 9, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Sarah, these brownies look gorgeous, I’d love to make these. I have a question though, can I bake them in a 8*8 square pan coz I don’t have a 9*13 pan.


  • Reply
    Jim H
    Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve made these a couple times now and my 27 year old daughter says, “These are the best brownies I’ve had in my life!” She’s a chocolate lover and these are terrific! Most recently, I tried freezing them, then cutting in half and using for an ice cream sandwich. They work extremely well, hold together (cut them frozen) and maintain a great texture and taste frozen. So good!!!

  • Reply
    Niyatee Ravipati
    Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 3:50 am

    I cant find canola oil easily in india, is sunflower oil okay as a substitute?

  • Reply
    Niyatee Ravipati
    Friday, October 18, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Hi can i use sunflower oil instead of canola?

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