These extra dark sheet pan brownies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches

Embrace your dark side with the richest brownies imaginable

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Published June 2, 2021 10:00AM (EDT)
Sheet Brownies (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Sheet Brownies (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

Some people have a sweet tooth. Some have a salty one, some have a spicy one. And then there's the bitter fandom, comprised of the folks who could eat broccoli rabe and grapefruit every day, individuals who spent their childhoods gnawing happily on unsweetened blocks of Baker's chocolate. Bitter! The flavor group voted most popular among people who didn't want to share anyway!

For you, my people who eat brussels sprouts even when they're not smothered in bacon, this is your dessert. This is the darkest and deepest of brownies. It is also, just in time for ice cream sandwich season, the thinnest.

Rhoda Boone's brilliant sheet pan brownie recipe requires no special equipment, and bakes up in just 15 minutes. In other words, why have you read this far and you aren't making it already? Before you get to it, though, just get this clear — this is not a cookie, not a cake, not a traditional bar. It is what it says it is, a  chewy brownie that just happens to be the thickness of your phone. And because brownies lend themselves so well to adaptation, I like to make mine as intense as possible.

The incredible flavor here comes from three high voltage ingredients —  85% cocoa content chocolate, espresso powder and, for the real showstopper, black cocoa. Have you met black cocoa? It'll change your life.

Black cocoa makes everything you make with it look incredibly dramatic and taste reminiscent of Oreos. Obviously, this means it's one of the most heroic baking ingredients ever invented. But you can't just go around using it willy nilly. It's drier than other cocoas, and its flavor is hardcore, so it's best when it buddies up with natural or Dutch cocoa. I think it does well when used in a 1/3 to 1/4 proportion of the total cocoa in a recipe. It's hard to find in supermarkets, but easily ordered online. King Arthur's is unbeatable.

If you like your brownies a little more low-key (and kid-friendly), just use regular cocoa, omit the espresso powder and use a lower octane chocolate. However you customize these, be warned that these are delicate, so don't be impatient about chilling them before eating — they need to firm up. Trust me, they're worth the wait.

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Recipe: Darkest Dark Sheet Pan Brownies
Inspired by Rhoda Boone and David Leibovitz
Makes 12 -  16 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa and 1/4 cup of black cocoa OR 3/4 of a cup of unsweetened cocoa  
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (You can mix it up and substitute the same amount of dark rum.)
  • 2 eggs
  • Generous pinch of flaky salt
  • 1/2 cup of white flour
  • 1 cup of chopped 85% dark chocolate or chocolate chips, or your own favorite chocolate (I'm obsessed with Alter Ego's Blackout bar.) You can substitute 1 cup of chopped nuts instead.
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of espresso powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 15" by 10" sheet pan with parchment paper and butter generously. If you only have a larger pan, just don't spread the batter all the way to the edges. If you're using a smaller one, bake an extra five minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt your butter. You can  always go the extra mile and brown your butter.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix your sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla, and espresso powder if using. Add melted butter and stir until smooth.
  4. Add eggs and stir, and then the flour. Finally, add your chocolate or nuts. Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Spread your batter on to your sheet pan and smooth with a knife or spatula.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes. Do not overbake.
  7. Cool completely and chill in the fridge until firmed up.
  8. Slice into 12 to 16 pieces.

Bonus round: You can eat these exactly as is, or use the Martha Stewart technique here to make ice cream sandwiches: Cut your cooled, baked sheet brownie in half and place one half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Spread softened ice cream evenly on top, then top with the other half of the brownie. Cover completely in plastic wrap and freeze until firm. Slice and enjoy.

More Quick & Dirty: 

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Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Brownies Easy Baking Ice Cream Sandwiches Quick & Dirty Recipe Sheet Pan