Chinese New Year Brownies



Fortune Brownies? Prosperity Brownies? Red Ruby Chocolate Brownies? CNY Brownies or Chinese New Year Brownies? Haha I gave up as you can tell! How to make it sound less cheesy…

But anyways, another recipe that I needed as a quick dessert table for when we had some family over to our apartment. This is my go-to classic chocolate brownies! The first time I made it was actually for high school Relay for Life back in Shanghai American School. In fact I’m quite sure it came from the back of a Hershey’s cocoa powder box, with sugar level adjusted. Back then I didn’t even know what I was doing, but I always recognize this recipe as having the most incredible crust. It was only till much later that I read more into how that crust forms – sugar guys. Don’t skimp on the sugar for the caramel-y effect. It gets tricky though when making sure it is not sickly sweet. For this recipe I used 1 cup of sugar, and would increase it next time. The cocoa powder that went in was this Vietnamese cocoa powder – really enjoyed the richness and fragrance from the natural dutch processed cocoa.

Since it is Chinese New Year, Red Frosting and white daisies it is! I adjusted the color by adding cocoa powder, which ended up with a subtle cocoa taste, but was perhaps too dark. It ended up more of a Brick red shade than the vibrant red I was originally looking for. I used a tiramisu frosting mixed with some swiss meringue buttercream. I don’t have the exact recipe so it was more of a trial and error frosting. I liked it though as it wasn’t as thick and buttery as a traditional SMBC. Tip to use Marscapone cheese for next time to lighten frostings that didn’t need to hold structure!

And why Cocoa Powder is my preferred method to make brownies – easier, has a subtle cake-like almost Feuilletine crunch, yet very moist and no need for additional chocolate chips to be melted. You can still achieve the fudginess by just slightly underbaking it. Do not get it out when the toothpick is dry! It’s also not thick, like what you may get from a more fudge like brownie made with a higher proportion of cocoa butter from the block chocolate. Also – vegetable oil is an adequate substitution for butter, sorry guys. Chocolate over buttery for my taste buds here! Handle the Heat did quite a nice comparison too in his Ultimate Brownie Guide.

Side note, I want to try this recipe next time! The Pancake Princess did a comparison and found that this recipe was the most popular.

Classic Chinese New Year Brownies
Makes one 8×8-inch pan (16 squares)

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies adapted from Culinary Couture

Chocolate Cocoa Brownies:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Vanilla powder (or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
3 eggs, room temperature

To make Ultimate Chocolate Cocoa Brownies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch metal baking dish with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together oil, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well blended. Using a spoon, gradually stir in dry ingredients, until completely combined.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.


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