Deepest Darkest Cocoa Brownies

cocoa brownies

Rating: 5/5 stars. This recipe makes a 13×9 pan of thick, moist, incredibly chocolatey cocoa brownies. Bonus: they’re non-dairy!

I have terrible news. In my attempt to ameliorate #2’s eczema, I have done the unthinkable: I’ve (temporarily) given up dairy. This was not an easy decision for me. I’m not really a big milk-drinker, but cheese, ice cream, and butter are all high on my list of favorite foods. But I’ve now gone ten days without dairy, which is definitely some kind of record for me. #2’s eczema is… perhaps mildly better. Maybe. Which could also be due to the warmer temperatures we’ve been enjoying. But I’ll probably keep up the experiment for a while longer and then reintroduce a bit of dairy to see what happens.

One of the hardest days of this experiment was Wednesday, the day we have advisory groups at school. Advisory at our school is synonymous with snack time. Any actual advising that happens take place over boxes of Dunkin (or if you’re lucky, from the fabulous Chattanooga-based Julie Darling Donuts), bags of apples, Tupperware of homemade cookies, jugs of juice… students take their snack-bringing duties very seriously. And woe be it unto the student who forgets their day to bring advisory snacks. Last Wednesday, one of my advisees brought giant Sams Club containers of both mini-cinnamon rolls and mini-brownies. We also had leftover mini-donuts and Pringles from previous weeks.

Of course I had to check the labels. And of course everything had dairy. And so I spent my day staring at heaps of brownies that I couldn’t eat. It was five periods of pure torture.

That got me thinking–wouldn’t it be pretty simple to make dairy-free brownies? No crazy changes would be needed, especially because I can still eat eggs. So I started doing some investigating, and then some baking, and I wound up with these decadent chocolate treats: Deepest Darkest Cocoa Brownies. They don’t have the delicious papery topping of your typical boxed brownie, but there exists no chocolate craving these fudgy brownies can’t satisfy.

Photo Mar 19, 1 03 20 PM

Time Commitment: The directions here are ridiculously simple. These clock in at 45 minutes to one hour, almost all of which is baking time. I took closer to an hour because of all the “help” I was getting from a certain little someone.

Mess: This whole thing comes together in one good-sized bowl–for me, in the bowl of my stand mixer.

Mom Fails: Pro tip: put your little one’s hair in a ponytail before giving her chocolate-covered beaters to lick.

Deepest Darkest Cocoa BrowniesPhoto Mar 19, 9 11 10 PM

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s fudge brownie recipe

Makes a 9×13 pan, about 20 brownies


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 c dutch-process cocoa, like this amazing valrhona cocoa from Amazon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c semisweet chocolate chips, optional (My Guittard semisweet chips are dairy-free, though they’re made on equipment that also makes milk chocolate. That’s good enough for me, but you can also find strictly vegan chocolate chips, if needed.)
  • Sifted powdered sugar for dusting, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat together eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso/coffee, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Add oil and sugar. Mix again.
  4. Add in flour. Mix again until batter takes on a thick, sludgy consistency. This batter is stiffer than your typical boxed brownie batter. Never fear–they will be tender and moist after baking!
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
  6. Smooth batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center looks firm but still moist. You can stick a knife into your brownies to check done-ness, but you actually want to take these out before the tester comes out completely clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, then dust cocoa brownies with powdered sugar. Slice, then serve.

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