As some of you know, Erik and I headed up to Sonoma for my birthday last weekend. While in Healdsburg, we ended up in a killer tasting room in the square – Williamson Wines. What was really cool about this tasting room was the food and wine pairing. Each wine was expertly paired by our host Tyler,  with a ‘bite’ to have with the wine. The pairing allowed the complexity of both the wine and the food to come through. Erik and I had never really been shown how to wine pair, and we were taught how to get the full effect from food and wine (most of us eat our food, swallow, then drink our wine – we forget to actually combine the food and wine in our mouths).

I could go on and on about this experience, but let’s get to the reason that I mentioned it. Cocoa brownies. Yes brownies. Wine and brownies.

When were were in the tasting room, one of the reds were paired with this amazing cocoa brownie, and I was determined to make that brownie.

Needless to say, I did it.

Yep. I’m that good. (with a little help from Alice Medrich)

I left a few at home for Erik, and took the rest to work. Mid-shift I got a text from Erik “These brownies are lewd…I tore ‘em up!”

Heh heh.

Apologies for the lack of ‘in the process’ pictures. I baked these when I got home from my second 12hr night shift, in my scrubs. Back again for another night, I skipped the picture taking and opted for sleep. Once rested, and the brownies cooled, I got around to snapping some post baking pics of these little morsels.

These babies have the softest center and chewiest candy-like top “crust”. I’d recommend that you cut them into pretty small ‘bite sized’ squares – they’re really rich. A nice Meritage pairs really well with them. Or a big old glass of milk.

But I’d go for the wine.

From Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces, 280 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. I didn’t have an 8×8 pan, and my other square ones were too big. A 9″ round pan worked perfectly.

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 pretty warm to touch (you should want to remove your finger pretty quickly after dipping it in the mixture to test).  Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It might look pebbly at this point, but it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.

Stir in the vanilla with a  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 plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, and the original recipe says 20-25 minutes, but for me it took about 45. Check every 20 minutes or so, and see.  Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. Dust with powdered sugar.