Alice’s New Classic Brownies

by Matt on December 14, 2010


No, really, oh. Oh as in “Oh my, these brownies”  and “Oh damn, these brownies.”  Oh as “Oh I can’t believe this recipe is so amazing” and “Oh there goes any bit of self control I had.”

Get the picture?

You can roll your eyes a bit when you say “Oh”.  It helps.

Even though I don’t claim to have the world’s largest sweet tooth and go for salty over sweet most days, I can’t help but claim this brownie recipe as one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Because to me, brownies seem like the perfect treat in theory. Chocolately, studded with fun things like nuts or fruit, small and compact and enough to satisfy thanks to their rich nature. But sometimes, well, you can’t help but feel let down sometimes when you bite into a brownie that’s dry, too moist or not moist enough, tastes like a mix or worse, doesn’t resemble a brownie at all.

None of those annoying things happen with this recipe. And I want to give Alice Medrich one big giant hug next time I see her.

This recipe requires some very specific steps when making it. You must follow them, there’s no two ways about it. You must use a metal pan to make them, not glass or pyrex. Why? Because the entire pan goes into an ice bath for cooling after baking. Now, I’m no scientist and I haven’t asked Alice how or why this works, but I’m thinking it affects the texture of the brownie, giving them an absolutely perfect chewy exterior with the dreamy perfect inside you want in a brownie. And these brownies are indeed very chocolatey and fudgelike, but again, the outside is firm and just on the brink of being solid and cracklely. Is that a word? Crackley? Crackly? Crackle-ee? Editors and writers, speak up while I go and bake another batch!

Alice Medrich’s New Classic Brownies

This recipe comes from her 1999 book Cookies and Brownies via the Scharffen Berger site. Yes, read the recipe from beginning to end before making it. You must. And while chopped nuts are optional, I’ve added dried tart Montmorency cherries to the last batch we made with much success. The tart cherries punctuated the rich chocolate flavor well, and since I became addicted to them after last summer’s trip to Traverse City, Michigan and purchased 10 lbs of them, well, you see where I’m going with this.

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger’s 99% Cacao)
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (shameless plug: Spice Islands Vanilla, please!)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
2/3 cup chopped nuts like toasted walnuts or pecans or dried tart cherries
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 400˚.  Grab an 8-inch square metal baking pan. I repeat, grab an 8-inch square metal baking pan. No glass nor pyrex as it could crack when you get to the ice bath stage.

Line the metal baking pan with foil or parchment so that it comes up all four sides.

Melt the butter together with the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl placed above simmering water, not boiling water. Stir to mix, you want it smoooooooth.

With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the eggs one at a time and then mix in the flour. Stir the mixture for 1 minute, until smooth. You’ll know it’s ready when it begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Add the nuts or dried fruit next, right before placing in the pan to bake.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges pull away from the pan.

While the brownies are in the oven, prepare the ice bath by using a large roasting or baking pan, larger than the 8-inch square baking pan that the brownies are in. Fill this large pan with ice cubes and cold water. Once the brownies have baked and are removed from the oven, place them into the ice bath but be careful not to splash any water onto the brownies. You don’t want that to happen. Let them cool in the ice bath and then remove and cut into 16 squares. Prepare to say “Oh!”

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

melissa mcgee December 14, 2010 at 7:53 am

matt! these sound DIVINE. i *will* be making these, most likely this weekend…

question: what is the recommended baking time for these little squares of nirvana?

Matt December 14, 2010 at 7:58 am

oh darnit! So sorry about that! They bake for 20 minutes. I’ve updated the recipe to include that crucial lil bit of info :) But you seriously must let me know what you think of these. They are AMAZING.

Jessica @ How Sweet December 14, 2010 at 7:59 am

These look unreal. I think I am going to make them today! I only have a 9 x 13 metal pan though??

Gaby December 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

ummmm there is a very good chance that these will be dinner tonight!!! :)

Scarletta @ Scarletta Bakes December 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

Making delicious brownies with a perfectly soft interior and a crackly (I am going with ‘crackly’) exterior really is a science. These look delicious. Thanks to you and Alice for the recipe!!

Jonny Rowntree December 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

Oh gawd. These brownies look DIVINE. I think I might make them as a Boxing Day treat.

*goes back to looking at mouth watering brownies*

Bree December 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I needed something to make this morning for my son’s teacher and I saw this on Facebook.

One word. Re-donk. Perfect in every way. Thanks Matt!

Lois December 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I’m sure I’m gonna make this. Soon, really soon. Looks and sounds divine!

Ella December 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I am so making those they look absolutely delicious.

penny aka jeroxie December 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I will be baking these for Friday morning tea…. sumptious!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I made these brownies and they were delicious, even though I accidentally made them in too large a pan and they were flaaat as pancakes (not quite but close haha). Yours look great and make me want to do them again right.

LimeCake December 15, 2010 at 2:31 am

I’m a brownie purist – I like them straight up, without nuts. This is a bizarre thing to do by cooling the hot pan so dramatically. Maybe it prevents further cooking and drying out of the brownie to maximise fudginess?

Matt December 15, 2010 at 6:03 am

I think it’s a brilliant step!

Travel Food Phil December 15, 2010 at 6:41 am

These sound amazing, I’m off to the shops to buy the ingredients now. Might even add a drop of Baileys or Bourban along with the fruit for an extra dimension!

Ashley December 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

What kind of flour should I use?

sciencegeek December 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I am baking them right now. My only worry is that with my tiny freezer (yay for apartment life) I have no ice cubes. I’m hoping that dunking them in cold water immediately and then changing them to a second tray of cold water will work just as well.

sciencegeek December 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Oh hell yes!

Matt December 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

OMG! So they worked with cool water? Hell yes! That’s awesome!

Linda December 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Darn! I bought a 9×13 metal pan today…oh well back to Homegoods for the right size. I can’t wait to make these marvelous looking treats! Matt I just love your photographs and blogs. I share them on my Facebook all the time…you simply rock!

haribo sweets December 16, 2010 at 9:21 am

LOL! I think my excitement for this brownie recipe is well put in the intro of this post. As in total Oh my god that looks delicious!. And with milk, it’s heavenly!

Annelin December 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Thank you, this brownie was fantastic! “Oh!” really is the word!
(I think I will try the ice bath on my (former) favourite recepie too!)

sciencegeek December 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I can’t really compare the awesomeness that might have resulted from using ice water with the awesomeness that resulted from using cold water. But I can say that awesomeness DID result.

Jewel Mooney December 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I can’t really compare the awesomeness that might have resulted from using ice water with the awesomeness that resulted from using cold water. But I can say that awesomeness DID result.

w. December 28, 2010 at 3:02 am

I just made these and they were awesome! I added some extra chopped up bits of dark chocolate into the batter along with some toasted almonds, and I especially loved that they weren’t very sweet, and how fudgey they were. Thanks for sharing :D

BTW, under the ingredients list, the amount of butter is listed as 1 stick (8 ounces) — 1 stick of butter is equivalent to 4 ounces (which is the amount I used, and my brownies turned out fine), so I’m guessing there was a little typo there?

Matt December 28, 2010 at 8:23 am

Augh, thank you! Thank you thank you! I meant to type “8 tablespoons” not “8 ounces”. It is fixed! Thank you! Did I say thank you? :)

Tam January 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Just discovered your site – great stuff! Will be back.

Just wondering…….. Do you not have a ‘Printer Friendly’ option for printing out recipes and perhaps a “no images” option to shorten the amount of paper? That would be awesome!

Looking forward to finding more recipes!

Vanjo January 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm

These brownies look delightful. I better complete the ingredients so that I can make this soon. I hope that I ca find Spice Island Vanilla in my local grocery :)

Nikki Hebert January 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm

These brownies look delightful. I better complete the ingredients so that I can make this soon. I hope that I ca find Spice Island Vanilla in my local grocery :)

Daphne March 20, 2011 at 10:04 am

Oh! Now I’m really hungry. Like the poster above I’m going to experiment with this with toasted almonds. Yum!

Biscuit wedding Favours August 31, 2011 at 7:17 am

Wow those brownies are good !!!!

Rachael Food stylist August 31, 2011 at 7:26 am

I will bake these brownies for my Friends baby shower, i should think they will go down a treat.

Fearless Foodie @ The Gourmet Review November 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Tonight I am going to pit Alice’s brownies against Thomas Keller’s brownies ( ………. drum roll please!!!!!

Kim November 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I love the recipes!! I can’t wait to start baking ! I found a place to get all my cake boxes, cookies boxes, cello bags, etc… Box and Wrap. If you go to and “Like” their fb page, you will get a discount code for 5% off your entire order!

Claire November 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

How do you store the brownies once they are baked? I will be making some for thanksgiving and I have to make them the day before because the turkey will be in the oven all day thursday.

Brainchild September 12, 2012 at 3:39 am

Hey, if you use any type of glass or ceramic bake ware, it will crack instantly when hitting the ice bath. The only material that will not react violently is metal; plus it’s the best conductor of hot/cold. That is why you get the “crackly” edges on the brownies, because the metal allows the cold to transfer to dough almost instantly instantly stopping the cooking process.

Emily January 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Cannot wait to try this recipe. I’m so tired of the box mixes that taste just meh, cant wait to start baking from scratch and i think this will be the perfect recipe to start with

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