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Baking The Best Brownies

A plate of brownies on a white plate in front of a brown background.
Brownies. Photo by John Schuster via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I have to confess that I frequently get a craving for chocolate, usually late at night. If I can't resist the hunger, I like nothing more than grabbing a good, gooey rich brownie.

So if you have a hankering to make a perfect brownie, rejoice, because Chef Jerry Pellegrino has a few tips. These are basic concepts, to be sure, but if you fail to follow them your brownies will not be all that they can be.

  1. Use quality chocolate and cocoa powder. Use either chocolate disks or chocolate baking bars. Chocolate chips are good to add to the recipe but aren’t designed to melt evenly.
  2. Measure the ingredients accurately. Using a scale works best here
  3. Use the correct size pan called for in the recipe. Using a different size pan will change the thickness and cook time for success
  4. Use a light-colored metal pan. Black metal pans absorb too much heat and tend to shorten the cook time. Glass baking dishes absorb too much heat and tend to lengthen the baking time.
  5. Check to be sure your oven is calibrated correctly by hanging an oven thermometer from the middle rack. Adjust the heat accordingly based on the recipe.

Jerry's Best Brownies


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

1/2 cup dark chocolate disks

3/4 teaspoons sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish (not a 9x9 dish or your brownies will overcook) with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.

Spray the parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, water, and vanilla.

Sprinkle the dry mix over the wet mix and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it'll be thick - that's ok) and use a spatula to smooth the top.

Bake for 40 to 48 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached (note: it's better to pull the brownies out early than to leave them in too long).

Cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. These also freeze well!

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.