Classic dark chocolate brownies from Chelsea Market’s famed Fat Witch Bakery is a recipe every chocolate brownie lover should have in their “best of” archives.
Several years ago I was in a New York City photo studio above Chelsea Market, art directing a photo shoot with eighties supermodel and raw-food enthusiast Carol Alt. That day she shared how eating a raw diet improved her health and changed her life for the better. I mean, she was so devout she wrote a cookbook about it. She even had her personal chef prepare a gourmet raw food lunch for us. So healthy—and all raw food—but still, pretty good.
And then, as soon as the shoot was finished, I headed directly downstairs to the Chelsea Market food emporium and bought myself a big, chocolate, BAKED Fat Witch brownie.
Brownies vs. raw food. See? For me, it’s always been about balance.
Chelsea Market is home to over 50 artisan food purveyors creating a food emporium that attracts locals and tourists alike to experience some of the most quality cooks, bakers, retailers and restaurants found in New York City. It’s a true community that serves its community.
I’ve visited Chelsea Market several times since and STILL, each and every single time, I cannot leave without buying a few Fat Witch brownies. They’re some of the most decadent brownies I’ve ever eaten. I always wished I had the recipe to make at home, but searches on the internet left me empty handed.
Enter the Chelsea Market Makers: Recipes, Tips, and Techniques from the Artisans of New York’s Premier Food Hall. This cookbook shares recipes unique to the food emporium, recipes for dishes Chelsea Market is known for that are collected all in one book.
Including this one for Fat Witch’s Classic Dark Chocolate Brownies. As Fat Witch Bakery founder Patricia Helding explains in the book’s recipe headnotes, “Just as your wardrobe can’t do without at least one reliably smart and dashing black outfit—the one that fits every time—you can’t do without a really good brownie recipe.”
Fat Witch brownies are notably rich and chocolatey thick, calling for more butter than most recipes and higher percent bittersweet chocolate—65% of cocoa content or higher.
I’m not going to pretend this recipe was perfect the first time I made it. Actually, it TASTED perfect but it just didn’t LOOK perfect to me. I’ve been questing for the perfectly crackly brownie crust forever and this time around I was on a mission to add it to my favorite chewy brownie.
I’m not kidding when I say I made this recipe 9 times. And now I have a lot of happy neighbors. The only reason I made it so many times is I was trying to achieve that shiny crust that isn’t a characteristic of Patricia Helding’s original recipe that is absolutely delicious in its own right. Obviously. My other challenge is that I am baking at high altitude so right off the bat I made adjustments to the recipe in anticipation of having altitude issues, when in the end I should have just left well enough alone.
My brownies either came out with a normal chocolate crust (not shiny or crackly), or after I made adjustments to achieve my sought after crackle-crust, they kept falling like a souffle once they came out of the oven. The brownies tasted awesome but I still couldn’t get that shiny crust. I did some internet searching and adapted the recipe by making it with chocolate chips plus baking chocolate. Chocolate chips by themselves. Whipping the eggs with the sugar for 10 minutes, or not whipping them at all.
At one point I nearly gave up. But I persevered and finally got what I wanted: A shiny, crackly crust with a dense, chocolatey center that even Willy Wonka would be jealous of.
My solutions in finding that shiny crust started with a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened baking chocolate. Some sources on the internet swear the secret to a shiny crust is to add chocolate chips to the mix but I didn’t want to bite into chocolate chips, so I melted them instead. Because I craved that deep chocolate flavor that unsweetened chocolate provides, the mix of the two was my solution.
To create a meringue that would rise to the top when baked and create a shiny crust, I whipped the eggs and sugar for a few minutes and then added the melted butter and chocolate to the egg mixture while still quite warm to help melt the sugar right away. This helped with creating that crust I was looking for.
To combat my issue with the brownies falling in the middle during and/or after baking, I added a bit more flour to the mix and upped the oven temperature to 375° F. If you’re not at high altitude you likely don’t need to worry about this issue. But you won’t have the view of those gorgeous mountains out your front door either.
It’s a small price to pay for making 9 batches of brownies :)
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Classic Fat Witch Dark Chocolate Brownies Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 3 sticks
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate 65 percent cocoa or higher *I use a mix of 2 ounces 100% unsweetened cocoa baking bar and 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour increase to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour for high-altitude
- Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350° F (375° F for high altitude baking). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with baking spray or lightly butter and dust with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat stirring frequently.
Meanwhile in a stand mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on high until the mixture is creamy, about 3-5 minutes. You may want to cover the mixer with a towel so it doesn't splatter. Add the warm chocolate mixture to the egg and sugar mixture for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the mix is shiny and creamy. Add the flour and pinch of salt and pulse the mixer on low just until the flour is mixed in being careful not to over mix. If you wish to add toasted nuts, more chocolate chips, or dried fruit this is the time to do it.
Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting.
And then, because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, on my 8th batch, I made a few more mixing adjustments and whipped the egg and sugar for 8 minutes and used 1 cup of flour instead of 3/4 cup and came out with these super duper meringued beauties that ended up being my daughter’s favorite. Whoa. But if you’re not into a crunchy top, stick with the recipe I’ve provided above.
In the end, it’s good to experiment, because with so many variables typically at hand, baking can pretty much be a crap shoot anyway.
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