Until I tried this brownie recipe, I was a firm believer that the batter would always trump the end result. Time and time again, I'd bite in and be disappointed by a mild, cakey dessert that was a mere shadow of its bowl-licking-good beginnings, but not with these. Don't let their crackly, craggy, salt-speckled tops fool you — below the surface is an insanely rich, fudgy, dense crumb that captures brownie batter's lush flavor and texture but is much easier to share with friends.

Since my brownie revelation, I've loaded them with chopped nuts, swirled them with caramel sauce, and even amped up their fudge factor by adding chocolate chunks to the batter. What hasn't changed is my loyalty to this recipe; once you try them for yourself, I think you'll understand why.

For extra brownie points (yeah, I went there), bring the extras to work this Valentine's Day. Your gesture won't go unappreciated, and the temptation to plow through an entire pan will be quashed (win-win).

Fudgy Salted Brownies

Fudgy Salted Brownies

Notes

The brownies will appear undercooked if cut into before completely cool.

Fudgy Salted Brownies

Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate, coarsely chopped, such as Ghiradelli or Callebaut
1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Fleur de sel

Directions

  1. Put oven rack in middle position, and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof mixing bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl, then pour in chocolate mixture, whisking until combined well. Whisk in flour mixture, and transfer batter to baking pan. Smooth out the batter with an offset spatula, and generously sprinkle the surface with fleur de sel.
  5. Bake until the top is shiny, the sides have begun to pull away slightly from the pan, and the center has puffed up but is still slightly jiggly (a wooden pick or skewer will not come out clean), about 45 to 50 minutes.
  6. Cool brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack. Gently transfer the brownies from the pan to a cutting board using the parchment sling, and remove paper. The edges will be quite crisp; for fudgy brownies through and through (and a neater appearance) trim away the edges before cutting into squares. Discard the trimmings, or share them with a friend who prefers crisp, chewy brownies.