Brownies are a funny thing. Everyone has their own particular idea of what a brownie should be – nuts, chocolate chunks, icing, texture, density… they can all make or break a brownie, depending on what you grew up with. Some people believe walnuts are mandatory. Some like a cakey texture. That’s fine. I’m not here to judge. But where I’m from, we like our brownies fudgey, chewy, and as chocolatey as possible. No messing around. Naturally, my mom’s brownies are the best brownies (and I’m sure your mom’s are too; that’s how it works), because they’re simple: a dense, chewy base — no add-ins — topped with chocolate icing. Straight-up brownie perfection.
These are still pretty delicious unfrosted, so if you’re not into it, feel free to keep them plain. And while I know from experience that a handful of walnuts or dried cherries do taste lovely in this recipe — you do you — sometimes simplicity is best.
In a lot of ways, this is the ultimate comfort food. These brownies are a cinch to make (you can do it all in one bowl with basic pantry ingredients), and they basically taste like Love in square form. I’ve made these brownies for myself when I’m feeling homesick. I’ve made these brownies for a friend post-breakup. And if I ever have kids, I’ll make these brownies to show them the magic of baking. That’s what I mean by “perfect.”
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- ½ cup flour
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- Brownies: Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C. Grease an 8"x8" square pan and line it with parchment.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon (or with a paddle attachment in a standing mixer) until smooth. Add the sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each, then add the vanilla and beat to combine.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into the wet ingredients and mix well. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth it into the corners and edges. Bake for 30 minutes - the edges will have pulled away from the pan and the middle will no longer be jiggly. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Fudge Frosting: In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the milk, cocoa powder, and butter together until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the icing sugar until smooth and glossy. While it's still warm, pour the frosting over the cooled brownies and smooth to the edges with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Allow the icing to set before slicing the brownies into squares.