To sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE.

(Includes Favorite Chocolate Recipes and really good cocoa for $1.99)

“How much chocolate can you put in a brownie before it’s too much chocolate?”

We asked ourselves that question years ago—and then went to work to solve it.  Batch after batch, we added more chocolate until we had a ridiculous amount of chocolate—over 3/4 pound.  We were using really good chocolate.

The brownies still tasted good to us, even great.  But then, we’re chocoholics.

We had a cooking class that night so we passed the brownies around the class.

“How many feel these brownies have too much chocolate?” we asked.  Three or four hands went up.

“How many think they are just right?”  The rest of the class raised their hands.

When we asked how many felt like they didn’t have enough chocolate, several hands went up.

The Lessons

Everyone’s tastes are different.  Merri Ann can handle almost bitter chocolate.  Me, I want mine sweet.  But I love a lot of chocolate.

Brownies come in a spectrum.  Some have more chocolate.  Some are sweeter.  Some are more cake-like.  The differences may seem subtle but there is an amazing array of brownies.  You have to find the brownies that you and your family like best.

The Quality of the Chocolate

chocolate 2

No matter your tastes, the brownies are no better than the chocolate.  A cheap, poor quality chocolate always results in a mediocre brownie.

We use and sell a lot of cocoa.  So of course, distributors and producers send us cocoa to try.  We make two things with it: brownies and hot cocoa.  But at the same time, we make brownies and cocoa with our proven brands, the ones we sell every day.  If the new isn’t at least as good as the proven, we’re not interested.  Some of the cocoas are just plain nasty.  After all these trials, we still only sell three cocoas.

We have never found a cocoa that we liked that didn’t have at least 14-16% cocoa butter.  Of the three we sell, one has 14-16% and the other two have 22-24%.  Most cocoas in the other stores are 8-10%.  That’s too little.

Try a Better Cocoa for only $1.99!

Cocoas are far from being the same. You’ll be amazed at the difference a good, high-cocoa butter cocoa makes—an almost magical difference.

I know it’s hard to believe that there is that much difference in cocoas but check the reviews and give it a try. We’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked, sure enough that we’re willing to sell a 1 ¼ package for $1.99.

Try a 22-24% cocoa for only $1.99! Offer expires 5/31/2016

But Back to the Brownies and How to Make Them Perfect

It’s a combination of eggs and sugar that makes brownies dense and moist.  Relatively little flour is used.  (We use bread flour because it makes the brownies chewier.)  So the anatomy of a good brownie is really good chocolate and lots of eggs and enough sugar to reach the desired sweetness.

If you have a recipe that is too cake-like and you would like to make it denser, reduce the flour and add an egg.  Likewise if your brownies are bitter (bad chocolate), you can mask that bitterness with more sugar.

Use this chart for increasing or decreasing the amount of cocoa in a recipe or for converting a chocolate recipe to one that is not or vice versa.  Since recipes and tastes vary, use this as a guideline and a starting point.

Chocolate table

The Recipes

The Chocolate Lover’s Brownie

Though this recipe has 3/4 pound of chocolate plus 1/2 cup cocoa, it is not outrageous.  It is a large batch filling a 9 x13-inch about 1 1/2 inches deep.  Only ten percent of those who tried it thought it was too chocolaty.  For the cocoa, we used our Ramstad-Breda Medium Dark Cocoa at about twice the cocoa butter content of most store brands.

Ingredients

10 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
6 large eggs
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, stirring frequently.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt together until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
  3. Add the cocoa and mix well.  Add the flour and stir until just combined.  Pour the finished batter into the pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs.  Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on the rack.  Once cool, lift the cake from the pan and cut into servings with a serrated knife on a bread boar.

chocolate 3

“Death by Chocolate” Flourless Cake Recipe

This fabulous flourless cake is easy to make. And it is so good—moist, dense, and fudgy.

For a nice presentation, make it in a springform pan. Be sure to use the very best intense chocolate. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate but you can substitute a quality semi-sweet chocolate.

Enjoy this decadent flourless cake recipe.

Warning: This is an intensely chocolate cake. If you are not a certified chocoholic, eat this cake with a scoop of ice cream or a little whipped cream.

Ingredients

1 cup butter
15 ounces bittersweet chocolate wafers (about three cups—you may substitute good quality semisweet chocolate wafers or chips)
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, stopping to stir several times.
  2. Whip the eggs until light and fluffy, about three minutes at medium speed. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar and cornstarch and continue beating until smooth. Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture.
  3. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center of the cake is firm to the touch.
  4. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Let cool for five minutes before gently loosening and removing the ring. Let cool completely before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or sift powdered sugar over the cooled cake.

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He and his wife Merri Ann are the founders of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and he is the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book.

Dennis and Merri Ann live in Rigby, Idaho. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.