Friday, December 8, 2023

Black cocoa brownies

This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Have you ever thought about why Oreos have an intense chocolate flavor but they're black, not brown. The answer is black cocoa powder. And that's what I use in my favorite brownie recipe.

A lot of people have very strong opinions as to what makes the perfect brownie. I can't cater to everyone, and since I'm the one making these brownies, I'm catering to myself. My preference: fudgy brownies with an intensely deep chocolate flavor. And this may be controversial, but. I actually don't like a crinkly top. It's too messy!  

First, I want to point out this recipe only uses cocoa powder, not melted chocolate. I prefer cocoa powder brownies for several reasons. 

1) They're softer. The fat in cocoa powder brownies comes from butter. The fat in brownies with melted chocolate comes from a combination of butter and the cocoa butter in the chocolate. Butter is soft at room temperature, whereas cocoa butter is not. Think of a chocolate bar left out on the counter versus a stick of butter left out. Thus, you get softer brownies. I recommend using Challenge unsalted butter for the best results. Since butter is such a big part of this recipe, it's very important to use the best quality butter. Challenge butter is made with 100% real pasteurized sweet cream and no artificial ingredients.

2) More control. Different chocolates have varying levels of sugar, cocoa butter, etc. that could greatly impact the final product. Cocoa powder is pretty standard across the board, which is great because we do not want variability.

So let's talk cocoa powders. There are 3 main types of cocoa powder: Natural cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa powder, and black cocoa powder. All cocoa powder is made from bits of hulled and roasted cacao beans called nibs, and they're all unsweetened in powder form. 

Natural cocoa powder retains the natural acidity of the cacao beans. It is lighter in color and milder in taste. It's the classic chocolate flavor you think of and the type of cocoa powder used in your grandma's favorite recipes.

Dutch-process cocoa is natural cocoa treated with an alkalizing solution, usually potassium carbonate. The solution neutralizes the acidity, resulting in deeper, smoother chocolate flavor.

Black cocoa powder is even more intensely treated with an alkaline solution resulting in the deepest black color. The best way to describe it's flavor-profile is Oreo cookies.

Technically, yes, they are interchangeable, but because natural cocoa powder is acidic and the other two aren't, it will affect the chemical leaver if one is present in the recipe. ALSO, it's important to think about what flavor-profile you're trying to achieve before you choose your cocoa powder.

A few more tips when it comes to making these brownies: 

1) Use a metal or aluminum pan. They cook more evenly. Glass and ceramic pans take longer to heat, and it will significantly affect the baking time. And line your pan with parchment paper so the brownies will easily lift out.

2) The method for mixing these brownies is to whip the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale batter. When you lift up the head of the mixer, the batter should fall down like ribbons and briefly stay on the surface before sinking down. This is called the ribbon stage. It incorporates a lot of air into the batter, and this is the only leavening agent in this recipe.

Black cocoa brownies

Yield: Makes 9 brownies

Time: About 1 hour


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (250 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) Challenge unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) black cocoa powder
  • Sea salt for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper with 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Set aside.
  2. Using stand mixer, whip eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt on medium speed for about 2 - 3 minutes or until mixture is fluffy and pale and when you lift up the mixer head, the batter falls back in thick trails like a ribbon.
  3. Slowly mix in butter.
  4. Sift together flour and both cocoa powders and fold into batter until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean with some wet crumbs. Thermometer inserted into center should read 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Allow brownies to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before removing by lifting out using overhanging parchment paper.
  7. Cut into 9 squares and serve.


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