The things I do for blog & readers! Last Thursday I baked and I baked and I baked again! Three sets of brownies, each one different and all in the name of research! I chose Thursday because I knew that I had 15 for lunch the next day, 9 of them children as it was half-term in England and was hoping, not only to gauge opinion on which was the winner but also to have them eaten up so that I didn’t find myself a stone heavier after the weekend.
The recipes I chose to do include one from a great friend and baker, Johanna, that appeals to children, Mrs Cooks brownies that I have previously mentioned that are adult, rich and oh so fudgy and a recipe borrowed from The Smitten Kitchen blog, that creates a chewy, soft and delicious brownie. I should say here what a fabulous blog The Smitten Kitchen is. In fact, my pre-ordered copy of the brand new cookbook should arrive on my doorstep on Wednesday, so expect to be hearing about a few more of their recipes over the coming weeks. In the meantime, check it out! Now back to the brownies!
The method for all the brownies was much the same. If you look at the quantity of ingredients this is where the magic happens. By adding a little more sugar or using a little less chocolate and using a whole pack of butter or nearly a pack and a half, the texture of the brownie changes. I’m sure there must be many alternatives out there and perhaps that is why the hunt for the perfect brownie is so difficult. I also think it comes down to personal taste. I like mine chewy! Only certain recipes give you that and even within a recipe, changing the size of the pan you cook them in can influence taste and texture. I will now, for personal preference, always cook them thin.But one rule remains. For a good brownie, always err on the side of under cooking. You want the centre to be gooey.
I have also found that melting the butter and chocolate in a double boiler is unnecessary. Instead you can put the butter and chocolate in a heavy based saucepan and put it over the lowest heat possible, stir when it starts melting and take off the heat while there are still some lumps to melt and keep stirring until smooth and glossy. The chocolate is then not too hot and only needs a couple of minutes to cool before you add it to the sugar and egg mixture.
So here are the recipes. I’ll tell you at the end what the results of the tasting test were and my personal favourite.
Johanna’s Triple Chocolate Brownies
- 175g butter
- 200g dark chocolate
- 3 eggs
- 350ml caster sugar
- 150ml plain flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp cacao
- 100g white chocolate chips
- 100g milk chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 175c & line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper 30cm x 20cm. (I used my brownies pan which is 23x23cm so made them thicker)
- Melt the butter & dark chocolate.
- Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and then flour & cacao.
- Finally fold in chocolate chips (or buttons)
- bake for approximately 35 mins – (mine are usually ready in 30)
Mrs Cook’s Legendary Brownies
- 375g soft unsalted butter
- 300g lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 500g caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Line your approximately 33 x 23 x 5 1/2cm brownie pan with baking paper.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan.
- In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
- Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
- When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then the flour.
- Beat to combine and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined brownie pan.
- Bake for about 25 minutes. Finger check at 20 mins that they are soft in the middle. Getting them out whilst they are soft is critical (as the actress said to the bishop)
- When it’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey……. Gooey is very important when it comes to brownies.
- Keep checking the brownies as they cook; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.
- Leave them in the tray to cool before cutting into squares …. Leave them overnight if you can and cut in the morning.
- Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Ok last but not least………
Smitten Kitchen’s ‘My Favourite Brownies’
Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies which you can cut into 16 2-inch squares (shown above), 25 smaller squares, or 32 2×1-inch bites, which is what I usually do.
- 85g unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- 115g unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
- 265g granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
- 85g plain flour
- Heat oven to 175c. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each.
- Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt.
- Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.
- Let cool and cut into desired size.
Note from the author Deb Perelman- If you’re like me, you will prefer these and all brownies, cold or even frozen. But I bet you’re normal and will just eat them hot from the pan. If desired, dust the brownies with powdered sugar before serving.
Note from me: I made this recipe the week before and it was so good that I doubled the quantities this time and used a large baking tray.
So there you have three recipes to try, each with their own merits. They really are the best recipes around that I’ve found. What was the verdict at our lunch?
Well as expected all children under 13 liked Johanna’s Brownies best though there was a lot of adult appreciation too.
The general adult vote was split between Mrs Cook’s and Smitten Kitchen’s but I think Mrs Cooks Legendary brownies took it.
My personal favourite though…. definitely The Smitten Kitchen now ‘My favourite brownies’.