Ina Garten is the queen of simple cooking. Her recipes are famous for being fuss-free and understated — always classic, never flashy, and effortlessly delicious.
Or so I thought. Her brownie recipe, which is anything but subtle, is a clear departure. The recipe uses an entire pound of butter, two pounds of chocolate, and three cups of nuts — a rather flashy recipe for The Barefoot Contessa. And as if that’s not enough to make them stand out, Ina also adds a generous amount of chopped walnuts (three whole cups!), chocolate chips, instant coffee, and uses a special technique called “rapping” to improve their texture and make them super fudgy.
Rapping is just a fancy word for removing the brownies from the oven as they bake and tapping them against the counter. This forces the air out of the batter and produces a denser brownie (or so they say). If you’ve ever made Sarah Kieffer’s pan-banging chocolate chip cookies before, this technique is similar — only with brownie batter instead of cookie dough. Brownies that have too much air in them (either from a chemical leavening agent like baking powder, or by whipping the eggs for too long) can verge on being cakey, so I was interested to see if Ina’s technique would really change their texture all that much.
So is Ina’s special technique the secret to making the fudgiest brownies ever? And are all of the seemingly excessive add-ins worth the extra effort and cost? I made a batch to find out.
Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
How to Make Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
You’ll start by melting a pound of butter, a pound of chocolate chips, and a generous amount of unsweetened chocolate (aka bitter chocolate) in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, you’ll gently combine eggs, instant coffee (to intensity the chocolate flavor), vanilla extract, and granulated sugar — being careful not to over-beat them. Add in the melted chocolate mixture, stir to combine, and let cool completely. In another separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt, then add that to the chocolate and egg mixture.
You’ll then toss walnuts and chocolate chips with a bit more flour and fold them into the brownie batter. (This prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the batter as the brownies bake.) Pour into a buttered and floured 12x8x1-inch baking sheet and transfer to a preheated oven.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and tap the baking sheet on the counter. (This technique is called rapping and is what makes these brownies so dense.) Place the brownies back into the oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
In the words of Ina herself: How easy is that?
My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Brownies
Were these brownies as outrageous as the title suggests? Yes. Was that a good thing? Not exactly.
The main issue I had with this recipe is the sheer volume of batter it yields. While I used a 12x18x1-inch baking pan like the recipe called for, it still seemed like too much batter for the pan. The brownies baked right up to the top of the pan and were over an inch tall — more like a chocolate sheet cake versus a traditional brownie. This also caused the bottom of my brownies to burn slightly while I waited for the center to cook through. (It took about 10 minutes longer than the recipe stated for the center to finally finish baking.)
As for the taste, these brownies were pretty good. They were super rich and fudge-like, with contrasting textures from the nuts and chocolate chips. I couldn’t pick out the instant coffee flavor, but I could tell that the chocolate tasted more intense compared to the other brownies I tested. While they were certainly delicious, they were a bit overwhelming. The brownies are massive and loaded with a generous amount of nuts and chocolate chips, so it’s not your typical brownie-eating experience. After just one bite I found myself reaching for a glass of cold milk to wash it down — and to be honest, they were a bit too much for me. I could see this being served at a party cut into tiny squares like a sheet cake, but not as a regular everyday brownie recipe.
If You Make Ina Garten’s Brownies, a Few Tips
When you’re ready to bake Ina Garten’s outrageous brownies, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Make sure you’re using the right size pan: This recipe generously fills a 12x18x1-inch baking pan, so don’t try to use a standard 8×8-inch square baking pan. The pan would be way too full and the batter would spill out as it bakes.
2. Or halve the recipe: Because this recipe yields so much, you can halve the recipe and still end up with a pretty decent amount of batter. A halved recipe would produce enough brownie batter to fill a standard 8×8-inch pan.
3. Don’t confuse instant coffee for instant espresso: Although similar, instant espresso powder is stronger and will be overpowering if used.
4. Feel free to omit the walnuts: This recipe calls for three cups of chopped walnuts, which is a lot of walnuts. If you’re not a fan of nuts in your brownies, you can reduce the amount or simply omit them altogether.
5. If you’re having trouble cutting the brownies into clean squares, pop them in the fridge for 20 minutes: This will help them firm up so you can cleanly slice them.
- Difficulty to Make: 7/10
- Taste/Texture: 6/10
- Appearance: 7/10
- Overall Rating: 7/10
Have you ever made Ina Garten’s outrageous brownies? Tell us what you thought!
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