sprouted kitchen

My parents are hosting Christmas dinner for the extended family this year, which gives me some say in what happens with the food. As the cook in my immediate family, it's my place. I think about food, I read the magazines, I like organizing and making's only fair. I prefer the non-traditional - trying new dishes, keeping things fresh, maybe even leave cheese off a few dishes (!), NOT having turkey and stuffing. My dad is requesting the later and I quote him, "I don't want any of that esoteric shit." This is a man who would qualify roasted squash or some sort of kale salad as esoteric. Oy. Wish me luck. Whatever the food, I am really looking forward to it. My mom sets a beautiful table, my grandma will make a few innocent while still slightly offensive comments and my sister and I will be silly at our corner of the table.

It got me thinking of dishes that are exceptional in their own right, for their simplicity or purity, before getting creative with them. I can't say there is much of that on this site, besides Hugh's coffee posts. I could even argue this topic is subjective between those preferring the traditional versus the modified, but a classic brownie recipe is something I need to have in my back pocket. If I am going to identify myself as a food blogger, there needs to be a brownie recipe on this site. It's an unspoken expectation. Not one with black beans or applesauce or mashed banana but let's start with straight up buttery, rich brownies. The kind I would eat warm with a scoop of ice cream and feel guilty about.

I had my mind set on a classic brownie recipe. I flipped through David Lebovitz' Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes because with a title like that and a reputation like his, I knew there would be a brownie recipe and it'd be exceptional. Holy moly was my gut correct on this one. First off, they are crazy easy and let's be honest, everyone apreciates that. These brownies are decadent, very rich, and deeply chocolatey, so much so that even one with a fierce sweet tooth can have one small square and be satisfied. These are fudgy brownies but not so fudgy that you feel like you're eating underdone batter. The recipe reigns from a friend of Lebovitz' who co-founded Scharffen Berger so these are no cocoa-cakey brownies, this is chocolate in all its glory. Excellent on their own, and still a perfect canvas for adding in what you please. THAT is the brownie recipe I want. A la mode of course.

sprouted kitchen

sprouted kitchen

BROWNIES // Makes 12

Adapted from David Lebovitz Ready for Dessert

David notes that the minute long stir to incorporate the flour is crucial for everything staying together. I used oat flour, which gave reason for a slightly crumbly brownie but they stayed together just fine. If you use GF certified oat flour, these are gluten free. I grind my oat flour from old fashioned oats, so it's a tad coarse as you'll notice in the photos. Once the brownies are baked, I don't believe it compromises the texture at all.

  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 3/4 cup natural cane sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1/3 cup oat flour or unbleached all purpose flour

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs for topping

Add-in options (from both David and myself):

  • 1 cup toasted and chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)

  • 1/3 each cup chopped dried cherries and cocoa nibs

  • 1 tsp. mint extract and crushed candy canes for topping

  • 1-2 tsp. espresso powder

sprouted kitchen


sprouted kitchen

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 350'. Line the inside of a 8'' square pan with parchment or foil allowing the excess edges to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Lightly grease with butter or cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour, pinch of salt and stir energetically for 1 full minute, until the batter looses its graininess, becomes smooth, and begins to pul away from the sides. Stir in the chopped nuts of preferred add ins.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the cocoa nibs on top and bake until the center is almost set, about 25-30 minutes. Don't overbake. Let them cool completely before lifting out the parchment to remove brownies.

These brownies will keep well for 4 days and can be frozen for one month. For a clean cut, chill the brownies to get even edges and clean the knife between slices.

sprouted kitchen

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Reader Comments (71)

I laughed out loud at your dad's comment about esoteric shit!!! That was my family, and I admit, a little bit of me also until about 3 years ago. We switched to traditional, whole, pure foods, organic when we can, lost the red meats and all whites (breads/sugars/pastas/etc. We have lost a lot of weight, have turned our labwork into glowing reports, feel ever-so-much better. Websites like yours have helped a lot of people to more healthy meals and lifestyles. Many thanks!

Still laughing about your dad's comment. I'm sure he'll love your holiday meal! Dads...... ya gotta love em.... :-)

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGena

Beautiful and delicious! Were these shot on film?

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermaggie

Your dad could be my dad and your grandma could be my grandma, from the sound of it. Very funny. Have fun at Christmas! And, by the way, I'm realizing it's been way too long since I've had brownies....

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKay

Why guilt? I'm not from the USA and I've noticed that many Americans have a lot of guilt and other emotions attached to their food. This is not common where I come from. I am honestly curious and would appreciate understanding. Thank you.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

My grandmother is the queen of "innocent while still slightly offensive comments." Actually, if you want an extreme example of one of her most offensive comments, she once called out my aunt while we were all sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. "My, Janna, you've sure put on some weight!" She means well, she really does. I have been wanting to find a stellar brownie recipe for a while now, though I've been afraid to try a bunch because there is only me here to eat them, but David's did catch my eye when I was perusing Ready For Dessert. Might just have to pour myself another glass of wine and make these brownies tonight.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne

Love me some brownies! I'm really liking the addition of the cocoa nibs!

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMallory

Ha. Yes brownie recipe is a must, anything involving brownie is a keeper.


December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNorma Diaz

You! YOU! You're my favorite, ya know? I'm catering a big (big as in, I am in WAY OVER MY HEAD) and I wanted to include brownies in the spread... these! YES! Thank you, lovely. A recipe I know I can trust. And your dad, hilarious. Best of luck this year, you got this ;)

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

I love the idea of oat flour in a brownie. I had no idea it was as easy as grinding up some oats! I'm definitely trying that out.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Wow. Wow wow wow. Your photos are always pretty amazing...but these are just blowing my mind. I've been just staring for the past five minutes. Did you guys do something different here? Brilllliant light.

Also - I'm definitely making these with peppermint extract + crushed candy canes for a christmas party (seriously, is there any better flavour combo than mint and chocolate?). Awesome stuff.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana

This may be a bit of a newbie question - Baking has never been my strong point. You say 1 Cup of nuts, wouldn't that significantly change the consistency/amount of batter/cooking time?

Going to try my first standard batch tonight, and try em on my Sunday School boys :) Nothing like kids to tell me how the sweet tooth goes!

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCallan

@Callan - no, you are correct. It will add more volume, but will barely alter the cooking time. Maybe a couple minutes. David's original is written with the nuts, and baked in a 9'' square. I went without and used an 8''. Feel free to use a larger square if you prefer but I don't think it'll make a huge difference. Hope they go over well!!

December 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Thanks Sara! For the whole blog and book too :D

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCallan

Your photography is absolutely stunning.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen G.

I have been baking too much this week and then this showed up in my facebook feed. I'm in trouble this weekend.
I'm terribly excited to try these with oat flour! That just sounds like the perfect chocolate treat.

And, I am always giggling in the corner with my sister. One of the best parts of the holiday. :)
[And sheesh, I agree with the above comments - the photos are crazy good. The three after the recipe are so stunning. Love.}

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

Fabulous description of holiday family gatherings -- the traditional at odds with the new, the inevitable innocent-but-offensive comments, the laughter. I wish you only the best at your table! I love where all of your thoughts on this took you, too. I just recently found a delicious brownie recipe (though vegan, so perhaps not purest of the pure form), and I realized that I'd been missing out on something really wonderful as I went for the adventurous or new time after time rather than falling back -- at least once in awhile -- to a well-crafted version of a trusty food loved by (nearly) all. Yours look amazing! xoxo

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

David knows a thing or two when it comes to chocolate and brownies. In his cookbook there's also a recipe for cheesecake swirl brownies. Now, those are truly fantastic. Give 'em a try, I'll bet you will not look at brownies in the same way anymore...

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Oh, I LOVE nibby brownies. I made some recently too, but I will have to make them again adding dried cherries !!! Never thought of trying that!!!!!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarya


December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA tasty love story

Hurray! Once and a while I think that we all need to bite into a brownie that is so gooey and so chocolatey that it tastes like we are eating raw batter.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

There is such a temptation when you cook a lot or write a food blog or develop recipes to change things up and put your own stamp on a recipe and most of the time, that is totally brilliant. But sometimes, it's good just to take a step back and focus on something classic - it's pretty hard to get more classic than a brownie. As everyone else has said, the pictures in this post (and your words of course) are stunning.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

these look absolutely decadent!! i don't have a go-to brownie recipe either. i'll definitely be giving this one a try! love the idea of adding some espresso powder!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlittle kitchie

How can a chocolatey, crumbly dessert be so gorgeous? Beats me.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

just like another reader posted, i too laughed out loud at your dad's comment!!! i hold a similar position in my family (menu planning, food etc), and i am also met with some, shall we say, resistance :) can't wait to bake these brownies!!! thanks sara xo

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

What brand of chocolate did you use in this recipe? I only ask because the design on the bar in the images above is so pretty XD

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

When I think of pretty brownies...I see these!

I HATE the cocoa-cakey type of brownies with a passion. These, however...yes please.

I know exactly what you mean about wanting to have the classics down---and a brownie recipe that doesn't have black beans or other fwa fwa in it. (and the description of your Thanksgiving table with you and your sister silly in the corner, oh! I relate to that. Love it.)


December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

@Annie - I used two bars but that one in the photo is the holiday dark chocolate bar at Trader Joes. ($1.99 for 6.3oz)

December 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Ive heard amazing things about that brownie recipe of David's and your brownies, GF and all, just proved that point even more!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAverie @ Averie Cooks

My holiday 'challenges' are similar to yours. As the person most obsessed with food in my family, it often falls to me to come up with the dishes/menu, but that doesn't mean I don't get plenty of feedback about my choices. Pretty sure these brownies are an all-around crowd pleaser. xo friend!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

These look divine. I really enjoy your photography in this post.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrista

I just came across your blog and WOW, your pictures are simply amazing :)

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Lee

You just described my family, lol. I told my sister I was making sweet potato quesadillas the other night and her immediate reaction was "Why?"
Thanks for the fantastically simple, yet clearly decadent brownies recipe. I'll take two scoops of vanilla with mine, thank you very much!


December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColette @ JFF!

Your dad's comment sounds like something that would come out of my stepfather's mouth, though he is always quite the good sport about trying whatever I or my sister put on the holiday table. And sometimes, he even likes it. These brownies are answering a craving I didn't even know I had. I get so involved in blog and shop baking that I often forget to just make a treat for myself. I love that these can he gluten free! YUM!!!!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

You've inspired me to make more unusual photographs for my blog. I love the angles and the way you can almost tell what the image represents. Beautiful.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersandra

Wonderful! I was wondering if you could substitute cocoa powder for the solid, melted cocoa? If so, how much powder would you use and would you add some liquid? Thanks! xoxox

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

@Amanda - I'm not sure it would translate exactly. There wss a great recipe in last months Bon Appetite for a cocoa brownie so I'd look at their site!

December 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Thought this was supposed to be a gluten free goodies website?????!!!!

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJO

This looks beautiful - and I'm a huge fan of everything lebovitz - but... why would you feel 'riddled with guilt' about anything you eat??? And if you do, why eat it? Guilt - especially about food - is so much more unhealthy than anything you could actually ingest. And so much of what is crazy about modern food culture is all tied up with guilt and with 'good' foods vs 'bad' foods. Seconding the commenter above, I'm not qualified to comment on whether this is a particularly american association, but it's certainly not prevalent in mediterranean europe where I live. Food is to be enjoyed. Not stressed over. And delicious brownies like this are to be especially enjoyed! In fact, I'm adding extra dark chocolate to my shopping list this morning and hope to be enjoying the tasty chocolately goodness before the day is out... Thanks for the recipe:-)

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEimear

I love a brownies and always trying new recipes...seeing if one is better than the last. These are going on the list because who doesn't love rich fudgy brownie? Oh, and my dad is the same exact way! Cracks me up. Hope you have a great holiday!

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMallory

So glad you liked the brownies - love the addition of oat flour!

(And the beautiful pictures, as well.)

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Oh, dear. As soon as i saw the title pop up in my Reader, I knew I was going to fall for these fast, and, now that I'm finally reading through the post and seeing the photos, I'm sold. Must have these. Soon. !!

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShanna

WOW - Amazing pictures! Great recipe. . . A real nice blog in all! ! ! try this for some more inspiration before Christmas:

x Mathilda

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMathilda Murray

Amazing looking brownies. One of my few weaknesses when it comes to food. Love the photos.

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane Morai

These were great! I made them with brown rice flour, and they turned out fudgy and delicious.

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

I just made these. I used whole wheat pastry flour and they turned out wonderful. So delicious!

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSierra

Fantastic, decadent and more-ish brownie! I could not stop cutting little chunks and savoring the crisp top (coco nibs), fudgey inside and absolutely rich flavor. I used almond meal instead of flour and added a splash of Kahlua instead of espresso. These are definitely my go to brownies now. Just wonderful! Thank you so much and have a Merry Christmas cooking for your family! They will love these!

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

You just gotta love a classic brownie. Nothing fancy. But drop-dead delicious!

Pinning for sure!

Sara, you shouldn't feel guilty eating this brownie. It's full of good quality ingredients. A little bit of butter doesn't kill;) Although I have my proven recipe I will try yours gladly. Have you ever tried to bake brownie with buckwheat flour? I recently started to experiment with this one and I'm not sure about it.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

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