Tag Archives: brownies

I haven’t been making brownies much lately – I’ve been spending more time honing my chocolate chip cookie recipe and M has been a-okay with that. He isn’t a big fan of me trying new recipes for brownies because he already likes the Baked Brownie so much. M feels all other brownies pale in comparison and doesn’t like having lesser brownies around the house. I understand his plight, but I’m doing this for brownie science. He just doesn’t understand.

Anyway, last month I made Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies with a few tweaks: less oil – I didn’t want the brownies slipping out of my hands, and I used Earth Balance instead of butter, though that’s never been an issue for me taste- or texture-wise. The amount and type of chocolate (the most important part!) remained the same, though.

Don't let me down, Cook's Illustrated!

Don’t let me down, Cook’s Illustrated!

 

Chewy Brownies adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes about 12 – 16 brownies

1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance), melted

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

 

Adjust your oven rack to the lowest positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. The mixture might look clumpy, that’s okay. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue whisking until smooth.

Whisk in sugar until fully mixed. Add flour and salt and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs – about 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool completely.

When cooled, lift the brownies from the pan and cut into 2-inch squares.

Meh brownies brought to you by Cook's Illustrated.

Meh brownies brought to you by Cook’s Illustrated.

 

Well, these brownies certainly lived up to their name – they were delightfully chewy. But that’s about it. They weren’t all that chocolatey and just didn’t do it for me. They were sort of moist (5/7), but not at all chocolatey enough (4/10). They also were easy enough to make, but required lots of different bowls (2/3). This leaves a total score of 11 out of 20 – not excellent. I expect more from you, Cook’s Illustrated!


This month all my writing energy has been devoted to writing a personal statement for my university application. I’m not sure if this is a new thing or not, as I have always heard of it, but when I told M about it, he was perplexed. Apparently he didn’t have to do one, which I find very unfair. In any case, much of my time has been spent thinking about what I want to say, then changing my mind, then changing it back, then writing three completely different statements, then three versions of those, and then editing them, refining them, sending them to my mother to inspect and critique, etc. etc. etc. After awhile, even though the story means a lot to me, the words start to lose their meaning and my eyes cross and I need a nap. Or, as the case may be, a brownie.

While not traditional brownies, they are a brownie cookie hybrid (what I like to call brookies, as I think it’s cute and stupid). Not one to discriminate based on appearance; I’m giving the recipe a go.

brookies, brownie cookies

Brookies pre-bite.

Brookies adapted from Culinography

Makes about 24 cookies

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance because I recently learned I’m lactose intolerant. Boo.)
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the chocolates and butter/Earth Balance in a double boiler or small saucepan over low heat. Mix until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, and sugar.

In a small bowl, mix flour and baking powder.

Mix the chocolate mixture with the egg mixture and slowly add the dry ingredients. When combined, add the cup of chocolate chips and stir.

Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

After time has passed, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Let cool completely before eating.

 

brookies, brownie cookies

Brookie post-bite.

Since these aren’t technically brownies, they are not being graded in the same way. But they are delicious! Om nom nom nom. They taste just like a brownie, but in the convenient form of a cookie. A good choice when you can’t decide whether to bake brownies or cookies.


Since before I was born my parents did the same thing on New Year’s Eve: drive to my aunt and uncle’s house where a few families gathered to celebrate the last day of the year. These families were all great friends from way, way back. My uncle met four guys when he was in college getting his degree in psychology and they have stayed great friends – all of their wives are friends, too. And my aunt and mother grew up together – their mothers roomed together during WWII. Subsequently, my aunt’s daughter and I are very close now. Like I said, way, way back. When I was born, I was included in the fold and have spent almost every single New Year’s Eve at my aunt and uncle’s. My extended family gets together, celebrate, share delicious food, and count down until midnight.

My aunt and uncle always put out all the stops when it comes to feeding us. Weeks of planning and preparation are involved and the results are always amazing. They know how much I enjoy baking, so my contribution to the party is dessert! My aunt reads the blog (Hi, Aunt Jill!), and suggested I make my favorite brownies. I was happy to do it (I also made a French Apple Cake that was to die for), but I had to decide which was my favorite: The Supernatural or The Baked? In order to make my decision, I made both. And the best one was, drum roll please….

….

….

THE BAKED BROWNIE!

The Baked in all its glory.

The Baked in all its glory.

The Baked brownie knocked it out of the park, to be honest. I actually think it is the espresso powder, and I didn’t originally want to include recipes that called for espresso powder. I was wrong. Dead wrong. While The Supernatural is a delicious brownie, The Baked has a deeper, richer chocolate flavor and is a bit denser, which I appreciate. In my original post on The Baked, I mentioned it only for 18/20 because it fell apart a bit too easily – this was remedied by cooking it a bit less. I was also incorrect in stating that The Baked were missing something that The Supernatural possessed – it is most definitely the other way around. Basically, I needed to do a side-by-side taste test to really know which was better. M, who pretty much likes anything that tastes good, even said The Baked was better. So there you have it, folks.

Chocolate-y glory.

Chocolate-y glory.

So, as an update to my Brownie Face-Off, here are my rankings as follows:

  1. The Baked Brownie (Rated 20/20, revised from 18/20)
  2. The Supernatural Brownie (19/20, revised from 20/20)
  3. Deep Dish Brownies (I didn’t give this one a number rating, just said it was 3rd after The Supernatural and The Baked)
  4. Fudge Brownies (19/20)
  5. Chocolate Chunk Brownies (15/20)
  6. Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies (10/20)
  7. Black Bean Brownies (10/20)

So, what does all this super-serious, deep-divining brownie investigation mean? That The Baked Brownie is the best so far. I still have a lot of brownies to test before my quest is finished – my aunt even gave me a chocolate cook book with a pretty tempting brownie recipe in it. But The Baked is the one to beat!


photo 1

All this time I’ve been baking recipes that I’ve found on the internet when I realized I have quite the collection of physical cookbooks in my kitchen – surely some of them must have brownie recipes! After pouring over all of them, I found quite a few promising contenders. And seeing as how I have a tendency to collect cookbooks and never really cook from them, I figured it was time to break that bad habit.

The first recipe I’m working on is from a cookbook I picked up on sale at Barnes & Noble a few years ago: Pig OutThe name really says it all.

Image via MQ Publications.

Image via MQ Publications.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies recipe adapted from Pig Out.

Serves 18

3/4 cup unsalted butter

4 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

6 oz semisweet or milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and semisweet chocolate pieces over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, vanilla extract, and salt until just blended, then fold in the chocolate chips. Evenly spread the mixture in the pan, pushing into the corners.

My absolutely favorite vanilla extract EVER. Yes, I have a favorite VE. I'm a nerd.

My absolutely favorite vanilla extract EVER. Yes, I have a favorite VE. I’m a nerd.

4. Bake until set: the top will be shiny and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out with a few wet crumbs still attached. This was 25 minutes for me – make sure not to overbake!

5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares.

Perfect crackly top! Not perfect taste, though.

Perfect crackly top! Not perfect taste, though.

Now, the final product:

photo 2

I’d give this recipe a 15/20. They were good, but not great. I certainly don’t want to pig out on them. They reminded me of the kind of brownie you’d buy at the grocery store – nothing special, but it gets the job done. Definitely not a contender.


“Beans? In brownies?”

Yes, pals, you heard that right. In my attempt to find the best brownie out there, I am leaving no stone unturned, and that includes the low-carb black bean brownie that I’ve seen floating around the internet. As much as I love beans (gimme a bowl of chickpeas and I’m a happy camper), the idea of mixing beans and chocolate reminds me of when I was a kid and would combine random ingredients from the kitchen cupboards, cook it up, eat it, and (surprisingly) not die. Sometimes I even tried to convince myself what I was eating was tasty.

It wasn’t.

Things like cans of corn,  blue food coloring, tarragon, and a bunch of flour and cinnamon don’t typically turn into culinary masterpieces.

So with that in mind, I attempted the black bean brownie. Wish me luck!

Flourless Brownies adapted from Whole Foods

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

3. Place all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in a food processor – I used my trusty VitaMix. Blend until smooth.

brownie mix

Pre VitaMixing.

Wheeeeee!!!

Wheeeeee!!!

Ingredients all mixed and cozy.

Ingredients all mixed and cozy.

4. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Chocolatey.

Chocolatey.

5. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until just firm in the middle.

6. Let cool before cutting into squares.

They look delicious, right?

black bean brownies

LIAR BROWNIES.

Well they aren’t.

In terms of my criteria, they meet all of it for the most part: They are moist, easy to make, and reasonably chocolaty. But they also taste like beans. Chocolate and beans just don’t go together. Unless you’re avoiding grains, are on a low-carb diet, or hate your tastebuds, I’d stick to regular, delicious brownie recipes that don’t include legumes.

That being said, they weren’t awful – I didn’t want to vomit or anything. They just weren’t tasty. I threw them out after taking photos. What a waste of perfectly good chocolate.

10/20.


I haven’t posted anything related to my Brownie Face-Off in quite some time, even though I’ve made brownies since posting about the Supernatural Brownies – though most of those brownies were just Supernatural ones. I have tried making black bean brownies recently, though, which I will be sure to post about soon.

Anywho, M had been “gently suggesting” that I bake for him recently. I have a whole cache of brownie recipes on my Brownie Face-Off Pinterest board, so I thought I should start getting to work on that.

As you know, if you follow my blog with ardent regularity (I’m looking at you, no one!), the bench mark upon which I grade my brownies is the Supernatural Brownie. It is uh-maze-ing. Life changing… that is if your life revolves around chocolate, which, lets be honest, mine pretty much does. Here are my Brownie Face-Off parameters:

  1. Moistness – I don’t like cakey brownies. The denser, the better!
  2. Chocolatiness – Must be ultra chocolatey to win my seal of approval.
  3. Lack of coffee – SO MANY recipes call for espresso powder in their brownies. I don’t like this.
  4. Ease – I don’t want anything ridiculously hard to prepare.

Being the organized lady I am, I am going in order down my Pinterest list. So, without further ado, I give you: Fudge Brownies.

Fudge Brownies 

from Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop by Meg Ray

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted this because blecky)
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (I also used some semisweet)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
Directions
  1. Line a standard 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and espresso powder into a bowl and set aside.

    Image

    Flour and baking powder hanging out.

  4. Melt the chocolate with the sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a double boiler or heavy-bottomed pan until completely melted.

    Chocolate + butter + sugar = world peace.

    Chocolate + butter + sugar = world peace.

  5. While still warm, transfer the chocolate mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then add the eggs, one a time, beating after each addition until well combined.

    Kitchen-Aid Electric Mixer chocolatiness love.

    Kitchen-Aid Electric Mixer chocolatiness love. Also, blurriness. I need to focus my camera more when taking photos of this sort of thing.

  6. Mix in the flour mixture you set aside, then raise the speed to medium and beat for another 30 to 45 seconds until the batter is shiny.

    Mixing cocaine into the brownies.JUST KIDDING! It's just flour and baking powder.Or is it...?It is.

    Mixing cocaine into the brownies.
    JUST KIDDING! It’s just flour and baking powder.
    Or is it…?
    It is.

  7. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. If the batter is still warm, it will ooze into the cake pan. If it has cooled, use an offset spatula to smooth into place.

    Brownie batter. Perfectly acceptable afternoon snack.

    Brownie batter. Perfectly acceptable afternoon snack.

  8. Bake the brownies until they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let brownies cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
  10. Ideally, cut them while still a tad warm, so as not to break the brownies too much. Serve immediately or keep in airtight container for up to 1 week.

At this point, I was too busy eating them that I forgot to take a picture of the final product, so here’s what they look like from the website I got the recipe from:

Image via Tartine and Apron Strings. She takes way better pictures anyway.

These brownies were really, really delicious. These are legit fudgy, too. But, are they are good as the Supernatural Brownies? M didn’t remember, but he liked that these had a bit of a crust on top, which he didn’t remember the Supernaturals having. I think the Supernatural Brownies are a tad better. So I will rate these a 19/20. Just cause they aren’t quite as amazeballs as the Supernaturals.

But still, go make these. TODAY. RIGHT NOW.


Back when I was a little girl someone gave me a cookbook called Kid’s Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual. In it there was a recipe for “Disgustingly Rich Brownies.” They lived up to the name and were amazing! I made them for years and years and even gave them away as Christmas gifts on occasion. They were the best brownies I’d ever had.

Until March.

In March, my boss had to order some sweets for a meeting she was having with foreign clients. I called Essential Baking Company and ordered a few things: cookies, pastries, and their fudge brownies. After my boss’ meeting, she put the uneaten treats in the employee kitchen for us to eat. As a chocolate-lover, the clear choice was the brownie. I took a bite.

Oh.

My.

God.

I had to sit down. It was the BEST BROWNIE EVER. It was dense, moist, and super chocolatey. I ate another. I ran extra hard that night, but they were totally worth it.

In the days that followed I tried calling EBC with a variety of ploys to get their recipe. The first time when I just asked, I was met with laughter. Undeterred, I called again the next day citing vague allergy problems as my reason for needing to know what was in them. They didn’t tell me. I called the EBCs in other neighborhoods. No dice. I even bought lots of the brownies to try and pin-point the ingredients… for science!

I decided if I was going to get the brownie recipe, I’d have to find it myself, through trial-and-error. I compiled a list of brownie recipes on Pinterest called “The Brownie Face-Off” for this very reason. My goal is to try every recipe and declare a winner. The winner needs to be as good as, if not better than, the EBC brownie. Here are my parameters:

  1. Moistness – I don’t like cakey brownies. The denser, the better!
  2. Chocolatiness – Must be ultra chocolatey to win my seal of approval.
  3. Lack of coffee – SO MANY recipes call for espresso powder in their brownies. I don’t like this.
  4. Ease – I don’t want anything ridiculously hard to prepare.

That’s it! I will give each parameter is grade of 1 – 5. The higher the score, the better.

Now, I should say, my Pinterest board has a lot of different types of brownies – not just basic ones like the EBC one. I love all brownies, though (except ones with nuts in them, yuck.), and will not discriminate! The more, the merrier, I say!

The first in my Brownie Face-Off is the Supernatural Brownie.

Supernatural Brownies

from Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri

Ingredients

Image

2 sticks unsalted butter (I only had salted butter on hand, so I omitted the salt called for below)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used semisweet)
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
One 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, lined with parchment paper and greased with butter or nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler.
Image
Chocolate pre-meltiness
ImageChocolate meltiness
  1. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in the salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the flour.
Image
Hot whisking action!
ImageI like to have a snack on hand when baking so I don’t eat all the batter. (Full disclosure: I still ate some)
ImageVanilla and eggs partying.ImageDry ingredients. This picture sort of hurts my eyes.ImageEggs and vanilla, meet dry ingredients!ImageEveryone getting along!
Image
I forgot to take a picture of me adding the chocolate mixture to the vanilla and eggs/dry ingredients mixture. But here’s the flour being added.Image
Everyone all happily mixed together in chocolatey bliss.
Image
Oh no! There’s batter left in the bowl? Whatever shall I do with it? (Hint: I ate it)
  1. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool completely in pan on a rack. If not serving right away, wrap pan in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature or refrigerated until the next day.
ImageWarm brownie goodness.
It says that the recipe makes 24 2-inch brownies, but I think it depends on the pan, and how big or small you like your brownies. But if you use a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan, 24 seems about right to me.
The outcome:
Image
The final product.
THE NEW BEST BROWNIE EVER! Seriously, folks, this brownie is amazing. It rates at a 5 in every category. It’s more like fudge with a brownie layer on top. And the flavor is amazing. They are better than EBC’s. Take that, lady who laughed at me over the phone! I win at brownies!
It seems my Brownie Face-Off was rather short-lived…! I will still endeavor to make all the brownies on my Pinterest board, though, because who knows? Maybe there is a better brownie out there (thought I seriously doubt it).
MAKE THESE RIGHT NOW!!!