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olive oil brownies – smitten kitchen

I did not intend to disappear for so long! In early October I was putting the finishing touches on a cake that manages to incorporate 2.5 pounds of apples (perfect for people like me who show no self-control nor willingness to learn from the previous season’s excess at orchards) when the world went to hell, our thoughts were not with food, and by the time I emerged it was November, a month I’ve spent mostly on a mini book tour when there is never enough time to come up for air. I need my sofa, some quiet, and a window with a view of the last bits of golden leaves clinging to trees to stare through, which brings me at last to today. Please know: Life gets busy, my schedule goes off the rails, but I will always come back to this space because I like it here, I like hanging out with you, and 17 years hasn’t changed this. The longer I’m away, the more delicious the backlog — it’s going to be a fantastic December.

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It wasn’t all grim: I also became an aunt for the first time to the sweetest little sunbeam. She came two weeks before my sister in-law and I were able to spend a day packing the freezer with meals, but I’ve been making up for it by working some recipes for family-sized one-pot meals we’ve been bringing on weekend visits, like a pot roast with almost as many vegetables as roast (that absolutely counts as arm day when you schlep it inside). There’s a chicken and barley stew I’m going to get to you very soon because it’s cozy as can be. And now that dairy has been temporarily jettisoned, I’ve been tweaking away at an olive oil brownie that I cannot wait any longer to share.

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If you’re a devotee of My Favorite Brownies, you’ll notice some similarities. This recipe starts with unsweetened chocolate (for the best chocolate depth), uses granulated sugar, can be made in one bowl, is whisked by hand, and bakes in an 8-inch square pan. But beyond that, there are some changes. This recipe is scaled up to 4 ounces of chocolate, because that’s the size bar it often comes in and I hate having random squares of mean chocolate [looks like friend, tastes like enemy] laying around. Olive oil has a deeper flavor and therefore benefits from complements like some added cocoa powder, double the vanilla, and some flecks of sea salt on top. And while I know someone or perhaps dozens of people are going to balk at the amount of sugar, I swear on a stack of cookbooks that this brownie is truly just moderately sweet. It’s simply what’s needed with the extra-bitter chocolate and cocoa in a 1-inch thick brownie. If you reduce the sugar, you reduce the moisture and will end up with a more dry and cookie-like brownie and that would be devastating. I want you to fall in love with these too.

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6 months ago: Easy Strawberry Lemonade
1 year ago: Green Angel Hair with Garlic Butter
2 years ago: New York Sour
3 years ago: Vanilla Custard Slices
4 years ago: Challah Stuffing
5 years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Lasagna
6 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
7 years ago: Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
8 years ago: Pecan Pie and Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes
9 years ago: Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce
10 years ago: Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons
11 years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
12 years ago: Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
13 years ago: Creamed Onions with Bacon and Chives and Sweet Corn Spoonbread
14 years ago: Creamed Spinach
15 years ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones and Winter Fruit Salad
16 years ago: Pumpkin Waffles and Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
17 years ago: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup

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Olive Oil Brownies

  • 4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (130 grams) olive oil, mildly flavored
  • 1 3/4 cups (345 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, any kind
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Pinches of flaky salt to finish
Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, extending it up the sides. Coat any sides or corners of the pan left exposed with nonstick spray.

Place chocolate and olive oil in a large bowl and melt it most of the way over gently simmering water or in a microwave in 30-second bursts. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, and salt until combined, then whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Stir in flour and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even, then sprinkle lightly with flaky salt. Bake for 30 minutes to 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, use the parchment paper to gently yank the brownies out of the pan onto the rack. Let cool another 10 minutes if you can bear it, then cut into 16 squares. Nobody knows why, but trust me that a disposable plastic knife is the easiest way to cut brownies cleanly, even when hot.

Do ahead: I like to keep leftover brownies in the fridge for peak fudginess. Brownies will also freeze well tightly packed in an airtight container, for at least a month.

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