Chocolate Decadence Brownies

Types of Chocolate

Types of Chocolate

By Cat, 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

The Decadence brownies are very similar to Katharine Hepburn’s Brownie recipe (2) (see also below), without the walnuts, but when you add the fruit and whipped cream, it becomes Chocolate Decadence.

Once the chocolate is melted and the eggs are whipped, this recipe is mixed with your hands (literally); enjoy every moment of the experience.

Long ago, I had a housemate named Peter. I decided to make up the brownies while he was away at class, to serve with dinner. After removing them from the oven, I went to the store to get the whipping cream and a few other ingredients for dinner. When I returned, I found him sitting on the sofa, arms stretched out along the top of the backrest, legs extended outward, and head tipped back. I knew that look; I went to the kitchen and sure enough, the brownie pan was empty. I picked it up and walked back to the living room. “What have you done,” I demanded, as sternly as I could (trying not to break out in laughter).

He lifted his head, eyes glazed over. “I couldn’t help myself,” was all he could muster. And I baked another batch.

Chocolate Decadence Brownies

This recipe is adapted from the book, Chocolate Decadence by Janice Feuer and Veronica diRosa (1). This small, wonderful book is just one recipe, with each step given its own page opposite a wonderful drawing of a naked woman doing that step. Very ‘70s hippie. The book was given to me by one of my male housemates who loved brownies.

You can make just the brownies (THE BEST), or make the dessert with its whipped cream, raspberry and chocolate curls on top.

The original recipe uses dark sweet chocolate, which is a bar of dark chocolate intended for eating as is, but now almost all bars of dark chocolate are 70% cacao mass or more, which is not sweet. semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate is a good compromise. If you like your brownies really sweet, increase the sugar by about 1/4 tsp. Do not over-bake the brownies.

If you intend to make the full Decadence dessert (not just the brownies), make the brownies one day ahead because they need to rest, in their pan, in the freezer overnight.

Makes 8″ round cake but if making just the brownies, you can use an 8″ square baking pan, which makes it easier to cut them into 12 rectangles or 16 squares.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Brownies:
  • 1 lb dark sweet chocolate (or semi/bitter-sweet chocolate)
  • 5 oz sweet butter (not margarine)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Rapadura sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unbleached white flour
  • Chocolate Decadence Topping:
  • 2 cups raw heavy cream or pasteurized whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar (I make my own Unrefined Powdered Sugar)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 lb (4 oz) dark bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 oz fresh or frozen raspberries
  • Equipment:
  • Baker’s parchment
  • 8-inch round cake pan (or 8″ square baking pan if making just the brownies)
  • 2 double boilers or bain marie*
  • fancy small serving bowl
  • fancy flat platter

* bain marie is a glass or stainless steel bowl set in a pan of gently bubbling water


  1. Making the Brownies: Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit perfectly the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, then butter the top of the paper.
  2. Melt together the chocolate and butter in double boiler or bain marie, stirring to combine. As soon as they are melted and satiny smooth, remove from heat and let rest while you prepare the eggs.
  3. Whisking all the while, place eggs and sugar in top of another double boiler or bain marie until sugar dissolves and the mixture darkens and is barely warm to the touch.
  4. Acting quickly, remove from heat and beat at highest speed of electric mixer until eggs triple in volume and have consistency of whipped cream (5 – 10 minutes). Remove mixer.
  5. Using your cupped hand (well-washed): Fold in 1 Tbsp of flour to the egg mixture – very gently. Then fold 1/3 of the egg mixture into the resting chocolate (in the first double boiler).
  6. Now fold this chocolate-egg mixture into remaining whipped egg mixture. When no longer marbled, pour into prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on table and place into preheated oven.
  7. Bake NO MORE than 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Brownies should be luxuriously soft in the center and crusty on top. STOP here if you don’t plan to add the topping, but just eat the brownies.

Making the Decadence Dessert:

  1. When cooled, place cake while still in its pan, into freezer for over-night (or up to a month).
  2. When ready to serve, whip heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth, silky and firm enough to hold its shape when piped. Do not overmix.
  3. Make chocolate curls from the bittersweet chocolate using a potato peeler (best if chocolate is at room temperature).
  4. Puree and strain berries and put into a lovely serving bowl.
  5. Remove brownies from freezer, then remove from its pan by spinning over high heat for just a moment, then turning onto a flat platter. Remove parchment.
  6. Pipe or spoon whipped cream over center 2/3 of cake, then pile chocolate curls over the top. Then make rosettes of the remaining whipped cream, around this center pile.
  7. Refrigerate, but remove 15 minutes before cutting into 8 – 12 wedges to serve. Pass the raspberry puree….

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, Adapted

Hepburn’s brownies were very popular in the 1980s, passed around in newfangled email; it can now be found on Epicurious (2). I’ve adapted her recipe to use the most healthful ingredients.

You will note this uses more sugar than the Decadence brownies; this is because this recipe uses unsweetened chocolate, while the Decadence recipe uses sweet chocolate.

This recipe bakes a lot longer than the Decadence brownies; I’d be tempted to bake them for only 20 – 25 minutes….

Makes an 8″ square pan of brownies that you can cut into 8 squares for serving.


  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) sweet butter (not margarine)
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup Rapadura sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Equipment:
  • 8″ square pyrex baking pan
  • double boiler


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour baking pan.
  2. In top of double boiler, melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and remove from heat.
  3. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well.
  4. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.)
  5. Bake the brownies in prepared baking pan in preheated oven for about 40 minutes.
  6. You can cut these brownies into squares, once they have cooled, and eat them out of the pan, but it is so much nicer to pile them on a fancy plate, from which people are going to eat them with their hands anyway. If you want to smarten up your act you can put a square of brownie on a plate with a little blob of créme fraîche and a scattering of shaved chocolate.


  1. Chocolate Decadence (book) by by Janice Feuer and Veronica diRosa, published in 1976
  2. Epicurious recipe for Katharine’s Brownies (

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