David Lebovitz’s Best Brownies

These best brownies by David Lebovitz are chewy fudge brownies that are easy and moist and homemade from scratch and all the things a chocolate brownie ought to be.

A parchment-lined square pan filled with pecan-studded best brownies.

I have a blanket mistrust of any recipe with a superlative in the title. “The Ultimate” or “The World’s Finest” always makes me raise an eyebrow. But how else can I describe these brownies? I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best. I learned to make them from the late Robert Steinberg, who changed the world of American chocolate when he cofounded Scharffen Berger chocolate. Part of Robert’s unique charm was that he was quick to argue and that he, like most people who hold strong opinions on things food-wise, was invariably right when you would taste the results. He adapted his brownie recipe from one by cookbook author Maida Heatter. The first time I made the brownies, they were a dry, crumbly disaster. Unconvinced that they were worthy of their accolades, I listened carefully as he walked me through the steps. When he asked if I had stirred the batter vigorously for 1 full minute, I stammered and then finally admitted that I cut that step short. “Aha!” he said. So I made them again and discovered that was one life-changing minute.–David Lebovitz

WHY DO I HAVE TO STIR ENERGETICALLY FOR ONE MINUTE?

As David Lebovitz says in the author note, above, he doubted this direction himself—and paid the price. We really, really, honestly, suggest that you time yourself doing this. Vigorously stir until the batter loses its graininess and lightens in color. You’re doing this for the sake of the texture of your finished brownies. As the batter becomes thick and glossy, your brownies will become fudgy and rich because you’ve smoothed out all the graininess and made a more cohesive batter. It’s a simple trick but it works.

David Lebovitz's Best Brownies

A parchment-lined square pan filled with pecan-studded best brownies.
I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best.
David Lebovitz

Prep 15 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 40 mins
Dessert
American
9 brownies
401 kcal
4.72 / 45 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Ready for Dessert cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients 

  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted or salted butter cut into chunks, plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Line an 8-inch square pan with 2 long lengths of aluminum foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to one other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Lightly butter the foil or parchment.
  • In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and whisk until it's completely melted and smooth.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and, still using the whisk, stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined.
  • Whisk in the eggs by hand, 1 at a time. Add the flour and whisk with everything you've got until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Seriously, time yourself. During stirring, the batter may appear to separate, and midway through stirring it may appear grainy, but when you keep whisking with vigor, you'll end up with a batter that's rich and thick.
  • Stir in the chopped nuts and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center is almost set, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely—yes, we understand how difficult this can be—before removing them from the pan by lifting the foil or parchment paper. Cut into 9 squares. (In theory, the brownies will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. But c'mon. We both know that's not going to happen.)
Print RecipeBuy the Ready for Dessert cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1brownieCalories: 401kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 33g (11%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 28g (43%)Saturated Fat: 12g (75%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mg (21%)Sodium: 22mg (1%)Potassium: 260mg (7%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 23g (26%)Vitamin A: 319IU (6%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 40mg (4%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Anything with “Best” in the title has to be worth a try. The flavor was superbly rich and chocolatey. The preparation for these brownies is simple and straightforward.

The chocolate melted within 90 seconds of being added to the butter. About 25 seconds into the “energetic” mixing section of the recipe, the batter looked like it might separate. I kept up my mixing for the duration of the minute and found that the batter turned glossy and began to pull away from the pan in its entirety—no separating. The brownies baked in 30 minutes, and they looked beautiful with their crackly surface. When I cut into them, the brownies were fudgy but in no way underdone. Almonds added a bit of crunch and texture.

All in all, was it the best brownie? I think they’re pretty close to one of the best brownie recipes I’ve ever tried. I think I will continue to test other recipes, though, just to be sure.

I was craving brownies and needed a brownie fix and SCORE! I had all of the ingredients for these best brownies in my pantry. "Best Brownies" is quite a claim, but this recipe lives up to the name in my book. I have to say, this has instantly taken the spot as my new personal favorite brownie recipe. I love a fudgy but not gooey decadent brownie with a crackly top and just a bit of cake or crumb. And this recipe delivers on a rich, deep, buttery, walnut flavor with a chocolatey goodness I was hoping for.

The brownies are somewhat dense but still light. This recipe was so easy to make, especially because I tag-teamed it with my husband and he did all the measuring, stirring, and assembling. (Often when we cook together, I read out the recipe and he cooks to speed up the process. It made for a quick assembly. My husband put this recipe together in less than 5 minutes.) I love that only 1/4 cup of flour was used in the whole recipe. One alteration we made was cutting the sugar down to 1/2 cup and I am glad my husband decided to do so, mainly because we were using Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) instead of bittersweet. The brownies were almost on the verge of being too sweet but were perfect. For semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup sugar is enough sweetness, although I would use only 3/4 cup sugar with bittersweet chocolate.

I did not toast the walnuts ahead of time but they still tasted toasted in the finished product. We started to smell an intense brownie aroma at 22 minutes and by 25 minutes they looked done with a crackly top and a toothpick coming out practically clean. We pulled the pan out just at the right time. Sorry, we just couldn't wait till they cooled. The brownies were delicately cut into squares and were fine even when slightly warm. Boy, did these make a good brownie sundae!


Originally published April 6, 2010

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. For some reason, the first time I made these they were a success, but after making it a third time. It became grainy, even though I did everything you said. I find that when I add the egg, the mixture doesn’t look smooth but scrambled, and after mixing. It’s not smooth and glossy, but still looks grainy. It bubbles up after baking and falls apart.

    I wonder what is wrong? :/ I use room temperature eggs and less caster sugar?

    1. Bubbling Brownie, my guess is you’re an overseas reader. I believe the problem is the caster sugar, which is superfine sugar, and, in some cases, contains cornstarch. This recipe calls for granulated white sugar. Also, because of the different textures, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar will not equal 3/4 cup of caster sugar; there will be less caster sugar.

      So try this: use 2/3 cup of caster sugar and see what happens. One last thing: if you are from overseas, flours can be different, too.

      Let me know how it turns out.

  2. 4 stars
    Made these last night. Easy to make, very good tasting. Notes:

    1. We used 70% Guanaja baking chocolate from Valrhona. In our baking there is not doubt that the best possible chocolate (we are partial to Valrhona and to Barry Callebault) makes a big difference.

    2. Baked using a convection oven set at 325 (typically have to reduce oven temp when using convection).

    3. 28 minutes was perfect for not-quite-done, so just a little bit fudgy, brownies.

    4. Made two different versions.
    – one in an 8×8 just as per recipe
    – one in a 9 inch round (we don’t have a second 8×8) with salted butter otherwise identical.

    5. Both came out great. For us the salted were actually much preferred – but again both were very good. We generally find that the addition of salt to a highly chocolate recipe adds a lot of flavor, power, and overall impact.

    6. Mixed per recipe – and we could see the batter mature during the 60 seconds, which was very interesting and helped us understand why it was so important.

    7. This recipe makes a small batch. So if you have guests, do consider making two.

    8. Also they are delicious, fudgy, and pretty thin. Keep that “thin” in mind.

    9. We did follow the directions in all aspects other than the 9″ round for the second, or alternate, batch.

    10. Next time we’ll probably only make these, for our preferences, with salted butter. We like to add other items to very chocolate-oriented recipes so we might add raisins, or cocoa nibs, or…we will see.

    11. It’s a good thing we had a lot of milk on hand! That is a sign of popular brownies 🙂

  3. Can’t wait to try these! However, chocolate savant Alice Medrich has pointed out that “bittersweet” and “semisweet” are vague in terms of chocolate percentages, potentially affecting texture. Perhaps these brownies work well with a wide range; otherwise, any thoughts on percentages? Thanks so much!

    1. Yep, Beth, that’s very true. Although we’ve made this brownie recipe with all manner of percentages and we’ve had terrific luck so long as we beat the batter the appropriate amount of time. I would suggest hewing close to 70% your first time with these brownies and then go from there in terms of taste preference if you like things a little darker or a little less dark. Let us know how it goes!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow! I made these for a family gathering and they were a success. I felt like a plain chocolate brownie so I left out the nuts and it still worked perfectly. I had mixed it for maybe a minute extra, so two minutes total until the batter looked glossy and smooth before pouring it in the tin. Our oven at home is fan forced and gets very hot so I adjusted the temperature to about 165°C (325°F) and it still worked out perfectly. The only change I would make next time, but this is personal preference, is to reduce the baking time to 25 minutes because they were fudgey and not gooey how I like them. But the taste is divine. Definitely the best brownie recipe that is going into the personal archive!

    1. Ci, lovely to hear that you and your family liked these brownies so much! Sounds like you know your brownie cravings quite well, best of luck to you on your proposed tweaks. We haven’t tested them that way so we can’t assure you of what results, but I love your spirit of experimentation.

  5. I have just started seriously looking for the “best” brownie recipe. I’ve tried some here and there, never finding one we really loved. My question is regarding the chocolate. I’ve seen the brands mentioned, but the recipe says semisweet. Chocolate chips? will those work? I don’t want to make these unless I used the right ingredients. Thanks for your help!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish