I have been an admirer of Mark Bittman for awhile now. I love this How To Cook Everything series and his latest book, VB6 is intriguing to me. I’d totally be on board if it weren’t for my love of cheese and yogurt. I trust his opinion and advice of food-related matters and as such, was delighted when I found his recipe for brownies!

They certainly look delicious...

They certainly look delicious…

This recipe comes from Mark’s book How To Cook Everything: The Basics. If Mark Bittman created the recipe and attaches him name to the finished product they have to be good, right? Plus the recipe is so simple and easy – I whipped these bad boys up in under 10 minutes.

how to cook everything the basics

How to Cook Everything: The Basics. Image via MarkBittman.com

Mark Bittman’s Brownies via SeriousEats.com

makes about 9 – 12 brownies


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a square baking pan (I was used a 9″x9″ one) with butter or line with parchment.

Combine the butter and the chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is just melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Gently stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla.

Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just barely set in the middle. Cool on a rack until set. If you used parchment, lift it out to remove the brownies. If not, cut them in squares right in the pan. Store, covered, at room temperature, for no more than a day.

So, how were they, you ask? I gotta say, Mark Bittman, I’m pretty disappointed.

mark bittman

Never trust someone who likes veggies this much to make the best brownies ever. Image via MarkBittman.com

They weren’t bad, but they certainly weren’t the best. They weren’t very chocolatey, and the chocolate flavor that the brownies did have were pretty one-dimensional – generically mildly sweet and like they were bought from a grocery store. They didn’t have any of the slight deepness of chocolate flavor that I’ve come to expect from a wonderfully delicious brownie.

They were pretty moist (6/7), not chocolatey enough (4/10), but they were easy to make (3/3), giving them a total score of 13/20*. Not great, Bittman!

Subpar brownies.

Subpar brownies.


If you were refer to my original Brownie Face-Off post, I stated that one of my requirements was a lack of espresso powder. After seeing the light, I have revised my requirements to:

  1. Moistness – I don’t like cakey brownies. The denser, the better! – 7 points
  2. Chocolatiness – Must be ultra chocolatey to win my seal of approval. – 10 points
  3. Ease – I’d prefer something that’s not ridiculously hard to prepare. – 3 points

Chocolatiness has the most weight, followed closely by moistness because, in my opinion, these are the most important factors in a brownie. I’d prefer brownies not be super difficult to make, but if they are delicious enough, then I say they’re worth a little extra hassle.