A Visual Guide to Making Alice Merdich’s Best Fudgy and Dense Brownies


Alice’s brownies made with three different unsweetened cocoa powders. From left to right: natural, dutch, and onyx.

This week my food obsession was with brownies. I’ve always had a hard time finding a truly great brownie recipe. Most are too cakey or dry–even the ones that promise dense chewy goodness–for my taste.

When looking up the best brownie recipe, Alice Merdich’s recipe always pops up. Here’s the kicker – I haven’t found directions on any site to be clear enough to create these great brownies on the first attempt. So, I did what I had to and baked up four different batches this week, making slight alterations with each new batch.

The brownies made with these directions are simple and quick to make, not to mention absolutely delicious to eat. I love me some fudgy and dense chocolate brownies, and this recipe does not disappoint. They beat any box mix hands down and you most likely have all the ingredients in your pantry. In twenty minutes, you could have fabulous brownies.


  • NATURAL – produces a very strong chocolate flavored brownie. It produces the sweetest, fudgiest, and densest of the three brownies.
  • DUTCH PROCESSED – the chocolate flavor is still strong, but more muted than the natural. I like it better than the natural because it isn’t as sweet.
  • BLACK ONYX – this is the cocoa powder used to make oreo cookies. I highly recommend going with this cocoa powder if you plan to pair the brownies with ice cream.

The Best Fudgy and Dense Chocolate Brownies

Adapted from Alice Merdich’s Best Cocoa Brownies  

makes 16 or 25 tiny brownies depending on how you cut them (I prefer to cut them into 9 regular-people sized brownies so I don’t feel like a pig when I continue to go back to the pan.)

  • 10 tablespoons of salted butter (1 ¼ sticks)
  • 1 ¼ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, dutch processed, or black onyx)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • ½ cup unsifted all purpose flour  

Position an oven rack to the lowest setting. Preheat the oven to 325. Butter an 8” x 8” pan and line it with parchment. Get out a medium sized pot, a medium sized bowl, a wooden spoon, spatula, and whisk.

Put butter and sugar in the medium sized pot and heat over a low flame for about 5 minutes. Constantly stir with a spatula while sugar and butter are melting, then switch to a wooden spoon (around minute 3).


Butter and sugar mixture should look like this – still slightly grainy, but mostly melted –right before you add the cocoa powder.

When butter is fully melted and sugar is almost fully melted, add cocoa powder and stir to completely incorporate. Pour the cocoa, butter and sugar mixture into the bowl.


Adding the cocoa powder to the butter and sugar mixture will cause it to lump up like crazy. Don’t worry, all is good.

Dip your finger into the mixture. When it is warm (not hot) stir in the vanilla. Then add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously with the wooden spoon after each egg to incorporate completely.


I told you it would all work out. See how shiny and smooth the batter is after adding the vanilla and eggs?

When the batter looks thick and shiny, fold in the flour with the spatula until you can no longer see any traces of it. Grab your whisk and beat vigorously for about 40 strokes. The batter should be super thick and start pulling from the sides of the bowl. This treatment is what will give the top of the brownies a nice, crackly crust.


Flour has been added and mixture has been vigorously whisked for 40 strokes. Batter should be super thick.

Spread evenly into the lined 8” x 8” pan and bake for 25 minutes. (Sticking a toothpick in the center should yield a toothpick covered in batter. Sticking it in the side should yield a toothpick somewhat covered in batter and crumbs.)


I pull my brownies when the test toothpicks come out looking like the above. The left toothpick was sampled at the brownie edge and the right toothpick was sampled at the center of the brownies.

Immediately upon taking the pan out of the oven, put it into the freezer and leave it there until it is cold. Cut and store in an airtight container.

4 thoughts on “A Visual Guide to Making Alice Merdich’s Best Fudgy and Dense Brownies

  1. Holy asteroids. Where were these recipes when I was pregnant? I’m still going to make them…I just can’t blame any overindulgence on the baby. Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

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