Did you ever wake up and crave something? That’s been happening to me fairly consistently my entire life, to be honest. We all have wacky cravings sometimes right? Which is why I started baking… or partially anyway. Sometimes you just want cupcakes at 2 a.m. Or maybe you want a cake at 9 a.m. It’s totally normal. But since being pregnant, I’ve had them more frequently and at a more rapid speed, for example, I’ll wake up at 10 and want coffee cake with my coffee. Then by 11:15, I want brownies. By noon I already want tacos- no, burritos. Maybe a quesadilla too. Then by 2 p.m. I want Sicilian pizza. Or meatball pizza which just came to me right now and sounds fantastic (I don’t ever eat meatball pizza, by the way). By 4 p.m. I want a caramel filled chocolate bar or chocolate pudding and by 5 I’m back to wanting either tacos or pizza or maybe even gnocchi bolognese. Perhaps fried chicken and french fries. After that it’s a mix of anything and everything until I fall asleep. Mind you I don’t fulfill all of these cravings.
But that’s why I made these brownies. I woke up on Sunday morning and I wanted brownies. With walnuts. And toasted walnuts are so much better than regular walnuts.
I made these in a 10″ cast iron skillet, obviously, but you can make them in a brownie pan. But I recently got a new cast iron skillet so I’m ’bout it, ’bout it. I’m notoriously not good with seasoning and remembering to take care of cast iron that is not enameled, so when I saw this pre-seasoned Pioneer Woman skillet for $10 I grabbed it. For $10, if I screw it up at any point I won’t be too sad. And yes, I braved a Walmart. They have good prices/a great selection on canning jars, FYI. ANYWAY…
This recipe is actually just my standard brownie recipe just baked longer, and in a skillet. If you’re not using a skillet, bake for 22-25 minutes instead.
THE BEST COCOA BROWNIES MADE IN A CAST IRON SKILLET
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cold large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup toasted walnut (or pecan pieces, optional)
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread shortening on just the bottom of your 10″ cast iron skillet (or alternately, line the bottom and sides of an 8″x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides).
- Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
- Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
- Bake until a toothpick placed 2″ from the edge comes out lightly moist with batter, about 40 to 45 minutes*. Let cool a few minutes on a trivet, then slice and serve while still warm.
- If you made it in a pan, lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Serve and enjoy.
*This is where I say the following: my oven- which is NEW- runs hot. I have to put it on a lower temperature to get it to equal 325° F. I also have to watch everything I bake very carefully, because things can get overdone very quickly, especially if I don’t get the temperature exactly right (and who can??). Sometimes it does not take the full amount of time to make things, specifically in cast iron which holds heat extremely well. Be advised and do what you will with this information.
SO. FREAKIN’. GOOD.
How to toast the walnuts? Easy. Put your chopped walnuts in a pan on the stove and heat over medium until they become very fragrant. Seriously. That’s it. Then take them off the heat before they burn. No one likes burned nuts. You can also make them in the oven, baking them on a cookie sheet.
Now lets all have a moment of silence for me because in my current condition I can’t lick the bowl. *bows head*
Suggestions for use: Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or alone. Preferably slightly warm.
Soundtrack: “Heart of Glass” – Blondie
Sources & credits: Rainbow tea towel; Ikea, cast iron skillet; Pioneer Woman for Walmart.