These small batch brownies are baked in a 9×5 inch loaf pan, yielding just 8 super chocolatey, fudgy brownies. It’s a one bowl, no mixer recipe that takes just half an hour to make! This is a great way to make brownies for two to four people.
So I know 2020 was the year of (among…many things) small batch recipes, but even before that I found myself gravitating towards smaller versions of recipes in the ordinary course. Not only do small batch recipes use less ingredients, they take a lot less time! And they produce just enough to tide two people over on dessert for a couple of nights without overdoing it.
We all know my love of single layer cakes runs deep, and it’s for similar reasons. The faster I can make a dessert, the faster I can eat it. That’s just a fact. So when I decided to take my favorite super dense, intensely fudgy brownie recipe (which currently exists as a peanut butter swirl brownie recipe) and cut it in half one day, I was in that frame of mind.
Sometimes, you just have to have brownies now but you don’t want a full 9×13 pan of them. Sometimes, you want a super fudgy homemade brownie within 30 minutes. This recipe is for all of those times.
You can make brownies…in a loaf pan?
Yes, we’re baking these brownies right in a 9×5 inch loaf pan. This is the perfect size to halve an 8×8 inch brownie recipe (or quarter a 9×13 recipe) because it’s about half the surface area of an 8×8 inch square pan! Most people have at least one loaf pan lying around so that makes small batch brownies accessible to everyone, which is a very happy thing.
And before you ask, yes, you can use an 8×4 inch loaf pan instead! The brownies will just be thicker, and you’ll probably need to add a couple minutes to the bake time to make sure they bake through.
Once I discovered the loaf pan hack was a possibility, it was only a matter of time before I tested the heck out of a small batch fudgy brownie recipe to get it juuuuust right. Poor me. Poor Brian. I can sense your pity from here.
What I discovered in the course of this testing is that really good brownies come down to just a few simple, high quality ingredients. Not fancy ingredients, just good quality.
- Dark Chocolate. 60-70% cocoa solids are best here. Yes, you can use semisweet chocolate chips instead, but I’d prefer that you use a chocolate bar as it melts better and is higher quality. I like Trader Joe’s or Ghirardelli brands.
- Unsalted butter. This is very important for the flavor and fudgy texture.
- White and brown sugar. Just enough, not too much, for flavor and fudginess.
- One large egg. This provides structure and adds to the fudgy texture.
- Vanilla extract, salt, and espresso powder. For flavor! The espresso powder is optional but really brings out the deep chocolate flavor of these brownies.
- Cocoa powder. You can use natural (like Hershey’s and most store brands) or Dutch process cocoa powder here. Either will work because there is no leavener in this recipe. As you’ll recall from my double chocolate banana bread, natural and Dutch process cocoa powders have very different chemical makeups and react differently to different leaveners!
- All-purpose flour. Just enough to provide structure without drying out the brownies.
- Chocolate chips or more chopped chocolate, and coarse sea salt. For sprinkling over top if desired! For the salt, I recommend tasting the brownies first as there is already a decent amount of salt in the batter, and you don’t want to go overboard – but some people really like the sweet/salty contrast!
How to make small batch brownies, step by step
You’re going to like this. Honestly, this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve created, and that’s saying something. This will take you the same amount of time as a box mix, and the results are so.much.better.
- Melt chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips, if you must…but a chocolate bar is better) and butter in a medium bowl, either in the microwave or over a double boiler.
- Whisk in white and brown sugars, and let it cool for a minute.
- Whisk in one egg, vanilla extract, salt, espresso powder (optional but it really brings out the chocolate flavor!).
- Stir in all-purpose flour and cocoa powder until a brownie batter is formed. You can use natural or Dutch process cocoa for this since there is no leavener!
- Scrape your luscious brownie batter into a greased or parchment-lined loaf pan, sprinkle chocolate chips or more chopped chocolate on top, and BAKE for 22-24 minutes. Bite nails, anxiously awaiting brownies.
- Cool if you can manage it, and devour.
Brownies for Two (plus a little)
I have to be honest and tell you that these small batch brownies rarely last more than two nights in our house, and that’s with a lot of restraint being exercised. The recipe makes 8 perfectly sized brownies, so you can decide how many people that feeds! They’re fairly rich so I find that 1.5 or 2 in a sitting is definitely enough for me…but I don’t judge.
Sometimes Monday, or possibly any day that ends in Y, requires multiple brownies.
The real winner of this recipe is the flavor and the texture. I discuss this at length in the peanut butter swirl brownie post, which this recipe is based on, but the use of melted chocolate AND cocoa powder along with butter makes for great chocolate flavor and a fudgy texture.
IF you want super duper fudgy small batch brownies, I highly recommend cooling and storing the brownies in the fridge. This prevents them from drying out and retains an unreal fudge-like texture. I have kept these at room temperature many times, however, and while they aren’t as fudgy, they are still excellent, intensely chocolatey brownies and do not suffer one bit.
Frequently Asked Questions!
Yes, but you will need to add 2-3 minutes to the bake time because the brownies will be thicker. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the pan. If it comes out clean or with just a couple small crumbs, they are done!
Whichever you prefer! Since there is no leavener in this recipe, it doesn’t matter which one you use. Dutch process will produce darker colored brownies.
Yes…but it’s not my preferred option. Chocolate chips have a wax coating on them which keeps their shape, prevents them from melting as quickly, and tastes strange when melted. You’re much better off using a high quality bar of dark chocolate (I recommend between 60-70% cocoa solids, and I buy Trader Joe’s brand or Ghirardelli usually). It melts much better and the flavor is night and day vs chocolate chips.
More Brownie Recipes:
- Peanut Butter Brownies
- Salted Brownie Cookies
- Dark Cocoa Brownies aka Midnight Brownies
- One Bowl Fudgy Brownies
- Almond Butter Skillet Brownie
Honestly, there’s not much more to tell you than to go make these small batch fudgy brownies, immediately. It’s a from scratch recipe that honestly takes the same amount of time as a box mix, and the results are FAR superior.
Small Batch Brownies in a Loaf Pan
- 2 oz (56g) dark chocolate chopped (about 1/3 cup when chopped)*
- 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar packed
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (.5g) espresso powder (optional)
- 1/3 cup (40g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp (10g) cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process both work)
- 1.5 oz (42.5g) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (about 1/4 cup – for sprinkling on top)
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl set in the top of a double boiler, or in the microwave in 30 second increments, melt the dark chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth and glossy. Whisk in granulated and brown sugar, and let cool slightly.
- Whisk in the egg until fully combined, followed by the vanilla, salt, and optional espresso powder. The mixture should be rather viscous and shiny at this point.
- Add the flour and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients and stir together until a smooth but thick brownie batter forms. Don't overmix – just stir until combined and no dry ingredients are visible.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the additional chocolate chips or chopped chocolate evenly over top.
- Bake brownies for 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
- Let brownies cool for a few minutes, then if you want them really fudgy, transfer to the fridge on top of a tea towel to cool completely in the pan. Alternately, these are lovely cooled and stored at room temperature.
- Sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea salt before serving if desired (although be restrained, as there is already a decent amount of salt in the batter!). Enjoy!
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