The Secret Ingredient That Will Take Your Brownies To The Next Level

Ever wonder why mocha tastes so good? The answer boils down to the fact that chocolate and coffee have naturally complementary flavor profiles. As Hotel Chocolat explains, both have rich and bitter notes that are enhanced when combined, creating a delicious complexity you wouldn't be able to get from just one or the other alone. Fortunately, coffee and chocolate don't have to be reserved for a cup of joe. According to Southern Living, the combination works just as well in brownies. The key is to add the coffee in the form of espresso powder.

It's no secret that brownies get their taste primarily from the chocolate, but too much of it can be intensely sweet — no matter how much of a chocolate-lover you might be. Just the right amount of espresso powder, however, adds a chocolatey flavor, without the overwhelming sweetness you'd get from the ingredient itself. In other words, espresso powder balances out the flavor while adding depth and richness. So don't worry about the taste of chocolate getting lost under the coffee — espresso powder does the opposite by lifting the flavor of chocolate in brownies.

How much espresso powder should you add to brownies?

The espresso-chocolate ratios used to make mochas and mochaccinos do not apply to brownies. Unless you want the coffee flavor to come through, you'll need a lot more chocolate than espresso powder. With espresso powder, King Arthur Baking shares, a little goes a long way, because it's an extremely concentrated ingredient. Espresso powder is essentially dark-roasted coffee beans that are ground, brewed, dried, then ground again.

According to America's Test Kitchen, you'll only need 1½ teaspoons of espresso powder per 9x13 batch of brownies, which you can mix in with the batter. If you don't have any espresso powder on hand, King Arthur Baking suggests substituting it with double the amount of instant coffee. The ratio works for any recipe, so if you're looking for a way to take box brownie mix to the next level, espresso powder is the way to go.