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Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 12-by-18-inch baking pan or a couple 9-by-13-inch baking pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly butter the foil or parchment. [Editor’s Note: We found that if you’re short on baking pans, it also works to divvy the batter between a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and a 9-inch-square baking pan.]
In a small saucepan, bring the water, butter, and sugar to a simmer and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
Dump the chopped chocolate, salt, vanilla, and baking soda in a bowl and pour the hot liquid over it. Let the mixture sit for a minute or so and then gently stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs to the batter, 1 at time, mixing with a whisk just until incorporated after each addition. Add the flour and whisk just until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and stir just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan and cut the brownies into the desired size. (You can tuck the brownies in a resealable plastic bag and freeze them for up to a few months. Let thaw at room temperature.)