Cocoa Brownies with Walnuts and Brown Butter

Photo: Sang An

A "What's That Secret Ingredient?" Riff on Tradition
Baking teacher Alice Medrich, author of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts and several other cookbooks, stirs nutty brown butter into chocolate-walnut brownies; it adds a deeper flavor than plain butter. The batter is thick enough to spread with deep swirls, resulting in soft, velvety bites with slightly crusty tops. Although Medrich says there isn't a one-size-fits-all test for doneness (since some brownies are cakey, while others are chewy), she always uses a wooden toothpick or skewer because batter and crumbs tend not to stick to metal cake testers.

Get the recipe: Cocoa Brownies with Walnuts and Brown Butter
S'more Brownies

Photo: Ben Fink

The Campfire Classic
Renowned pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, author of Baking Out Loud, has toyed with classics from Fig Newtons to Twinkies, so it makes sense that her take on brownies has a nostalgic edge: It includes crispy graham cracker pieces, chocolate chips and big, fluffy marshmallows.

Get the recipe: S'more Brownies
The Baked Spicy Brownie

Photo: Anna Williams

The Sugary, Spicy, Very Nice Treat
Chocolate and chili have become a classic pairing, and Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, owners of the Brooklyn bakery Baked and authors of the forthcoming book Baked Elements, have hit upon a winning formula in their spiced brownies. They use ancho chili, which has a mild heat and fruity sweetness; you'll taste a warm sensation after you've swallowed a bite.

Get the recipe: The Baked Spicy Brownie
Oreo brownies

The Dessert That Redefines "Double Stuf"
As if a batter rich with semisweet chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and instant coffee weren't enough, Ina Garten stirs in about 50 chopped Oreo cookies. The baked brownies are crunchy—it's easier to cut them into squares if you line the pan with foil before pouring in the batter, and once they're baked, chill the entire pan before you lift out the brownies and slice them.

Get the recipe: Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies
Raw Brownies

Photo: Richard Majchrzak/Studio D

The No-Cook Brownie
Go ahead and swipe your finger into the bowl of this raw brownie mix: All the ingredients are perfectly safe to eat without heating first. The base layer consists of walnuts or pecans, dates, orange zest, vanilla, avocado and cocoa powder; then there's an avocado-cocoa-agave frosting. Serve them cold and be amazed at how different—and delicious—a familiar dessert can taste.

Get the recipe: Raw Brownies
Bittersweet Brownie Drops

Photo: Sang An

The Sweet That Only Looks Like a Cookie
Yes, Medrich's easy-to-make chocolate treats look like cookies (you drop rounded spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets instead of pouring it into a pan). But there's no mistaking the moist, slightly gooey taste: These are brownies, best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk.

Get the recipe: Bittersweet Brownie Drops
Allergy-friendly brownie

Photo: Thinkstock

The Worry-Free, Allergy-Safe Alternative
If you're concerned about bringing brownies to a bake sale or party because of potential allergies, try this safe version. It calls for gluten-free flour and gluten-, dairy- and soy-free chocolate, and skips eggs and butter entirely—but doesn't suffer in the taste department, resulting in a cakey, chocolaty sweet.

Get the recipe: Fudgy Brownies

Next: How to get perfectly straight-edged brownies and bar cookies