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
4.73 / 48 votes
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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.)
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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

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Comments

  1. I thought I had posted my reply but hit the wrong button: first time poster and recent discoverer of Leite’s Culinaria, from Berlin. With a toddler and another baby on the way my time is limited but I hope to try out recipes as I can…

    I would so love to make this recipe as I am always on the lookout for new and great brownies. But alas, I find myself in Germany – for the long haul – and am without an 8×8 inch pan. I have a couple of 9x13s, and other baking instruments… but I blanched at Beth’s warning of doubling a recipe. There are, to the best of my knowledge, no 20×20 cm square pans to be had around here.

    Any ideas or tips for this semi-distraught expat?

      1. I’ve since researched a bit here and there and find that 9×9 pans are available mail order from Austria (made of aluminum)—who woulda thunk it—that’s also a size I don’t have. Am wary of getting an el cheapo pan via Amazon in Germany…. Since glass is also available, I would guess that Renee would advocate getting a glass pan?

        1. Indeed, Thomas. I doubt you’ll regret it, as the size is quite versatile. It can work for roasting a hen or heating up leftovers or, well, making these brownies over and over and over again. Do let us know how it goes….

      2. Thomas, I’m typically not a proponent of baking in aluminum, but perhaps you could fashion your own baking pan using several sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, a ruler, and some careful folding and creasing?

  2. If I bake in 9″ by 13″ inch pan, how many minutes does it take to be done?

    I made it in 9″ by 9″ inch pan and cut it to 16 pieces. Everyone loves it. I am going to double recipe using 9″ by 13″ pan.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ellen, please take the advice of someone who has tried doubling baking recipes and don’t do it. Baking is such a precise science and you would have much better results if you just baked two batches of brownies.

  3. 5 stars
    It’s true. They are the best brownies in the world. My only problem now is keeping my 6 year old away from the tin! Thanks you guys, and thank you David.

    1. Hah. Oonagh, lovely to hear your experience was just as knee-wobbling as ours. Appreciate you letting us know. As for your dilemma, sounds like you need some more high shelves in your kitchen….

  4. 5 stars
    Just made these tonight. OMG. They were amazing… best ever. So fudgy! This is my new go-to brownie recipe. My family thanks you!!

    1. Hurrah, Rasha! We are high-fiving you as we type. You and your family are quite welcome. We appreciate you letting us know (And yes, the fudge factor on these is ridiculous, is it not?!)

  5. Baking these for my sister-in-law as she prepares for the final leg of her first semester in college. Question: Because this is a more fudgy than cakey recipe, how do I know absolutely that they’re done? I’m so used to sticking a toothpick in them and waiting till it comes out clean….

    1. Lisa, that’s a really good question. It’s actually one that we asked our Never Cook Naked columnists to address. Here’s what they have to say….kindly let us know how it goes! And so sweet of you to do that for your sis-in-law. Here’s hoping you’re making a double batch and keeping some for yourself.

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