Let me get this out of the way. These are not pot brownies. I have not made or eaten pot brownies. Not that there is anything wrong with pot brownies – they are just really not my thing. I have to say that because I bet there is at least one person out there who sees “brownies for adults” and assumes they must have weed in them.
And here, rather than just tell you why I think these brownies are for adults (cocoa nibs! but my kids loved them too!) and why I liked them very much although they are quite different from my favorite (cakier! less intense!), and why I made them (yoga retreat!), I have to tell you about my dad.
My dad is a retired oncologist. He spent 30-something years treating people with cancer and doing so with kindness and empathy. The man who would famously tell his kids and wife, sort of jokingly, “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” when one of us was sick, was the most compassionate kind of doctor. I know because he really is a compassionate dad and I also know because every single person I have ever met who was either in his care or had a family member in his care, practically swoons at the mention of his name. Nurses too. And nurses know.
One Wednesday this past summer, I brought my parents to our neighborhood farmers’ market along with the boys. It is something we like to do together when the timing is right. Outside, a man was gathering signatures to introduce a measure to legalize medical marijuana in Washington state. My dad stopped, broke away from us, and went over to sign the ballot. He is not the ballot-signing type so I was surprised. I know his views on drugs are more liberal than the average 68 year old but still. I asked why he felt so strongly. I asked if he thought that pot does actually help people who are nauseated by chemotherapy. He said, “Not at all. Medically, I don’t think it helps. But if someone has cancer and is that ill, and their immune system is compromised and their hair is falling out and they can’t eat because everything nauseates them, and they think that the pot helps? Then they should be able to smoke all they want.” Go Dad.
So yes, I know that this is a bit of a stretch – brownies with cocoa nibs to pot to my dad and ballot measures, but sometimes stories just must be told.
Onward! I have a lot of brownie recipes here at Dana Treat. As a chocoholic, I consider brownies a perfect treat. And because I love chocolate, my perfect brownie is dark, dense, and intense. But sometimes it is nice to have a brownie that is more like a little piece of cake than a piece of fudge and that is where this guy comes in. It is not a wimpy brownie, I would say it’s very pleasant. Well-behaved. Slightly elegant but also quirky with a bit of crunch. If you have not tasted cocoa nibs before, they can fool you a bit. For me, in the first second, I taste chocolate, then coffee, then a bit of bitter. I like chocolate chips in brownies because I like the break in texture from smooth and rich. But sometimes some less sweet, less chocolate-y, is welcome.
One Year Ago: Ratatouille and Mushroom and Herb Polenta
Two Years Ago: Asian Coconut Noodle Soup and Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Arugula
Three Years Ago: Mediterranean Five Lentil Soup
Cocoa Nib Brownies
The Modern Baker
Makes about 24 brownies
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1¼ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
4 large eggs
½ tsp. salt
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups flour
½ cup cocoa nibs
Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with foil. Butter foil and set aside. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
Put the cut-up butter into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Let the butter melt, stirring 2 to 3 times, then allow it to bubble for about 10 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Gently shake the pan to submerge the chocolate in the hot butter and set aside for a few minutes so that the chocolate melts. Use a small whisk to mix smooth.
Place the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat in 1 egg on lowest speed using the paddle attachment. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each. Add the salt, sugar, and vanilla and beat smooth.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to mix in the chocolate and butter mixture. Mix in the flour followed by ¼ cup of the cocoa nibs.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining ¼ cup cocoa nibs on the batter.
Bake the brownies until they are firm, but still very moist in the center, about 30 minutes.
Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack.
Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate the brownies for several hours or overnight before attempting to cut them – they are very moist.