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Brownies -- Bake-Off I


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#1 Kerry Beal

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 05:55 PM

As imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - I'd like to flatter Chris Amirault by starting a Bake-Off series to match his wonderful Cook-Off series.

I thought we'd start off easy with something familiar that most of us make on occasion, then every couple of weeks I'll post a new item so we can explore another Bake-Off subject. Rest assured that not all will be as familiar or as straightforward as brownies.

Rules of the game -

1. Avoid recipe copyright issues - as described here.

2. If you post a recipe, make sure to put it into recipeGullet to make it easy for others to find in the future.

3. Remember this is not a competition - simply a chance for everyone who chooses to bake the same thing, compare notes, perhaps make suggestions. Essentially just to have fun. Let's keep it friendly - there are no right or wrong recipes.



With that out of the way - why brownies to start? Well if you do a google search confined to eG there are 2380 references to brownies. Means we talk about them a lot. They come up time and again in such threads as "PMS, tell it like it is", "The Dinner Thread" and "The Dessert Thread".

Putting 'brownies' in the recipeGullet index brings up 24 recipes. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a recipe there for Baby Food Brownies by srhcb, Black Pepper Brownies by Swisskaese and Sand Art Brownies by Cadbury.

How about the blogs? Who can forget yunnermeier's spacecakes made with Dr. Oetker brownie mix. Calipoutine's blog contained a reference to Buenos Aires Brownies - available at Zingermans, they contain a swirl of dulce de leche - makes your mouth water.

There are some rather unusual brownies too, srhcb's 'Dog Brownies' (take one dog, stir well...) and in the Pastry and Baking Challenge we have duckduck's 'Black Bean Brownies'.




So get out your favorite baking pan and let's bake Brownies. Cakelike, chewy, nuts, no nuts - what ever strikes your fancy - then show us and tell us what you've made.

#2 Jenikaye

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 07:46 PM

Love Brownies!!! :wub:
I'm game.

#3 miladyinsanity

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:26 AM

I've 17 brownie recipes to try.

I will start this week.

So far, my preference is Ling's brownie recipe--it's in RecipeGullet--but slightly modified.
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#4 etalanian

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:57 AM

Just a quick reminder:

Please remember that it takes a lot of time, money, and energy for cookbook writers and professionals with recipes on the web to develop recipes. Soooooo, be sure to credit the originator of a recipe if you are using someone else's as a base, or especially if you are using someone else's as an entry with little change.

:biggrin: :wink: :smile:

Thanks so much for your kind attention.


Eileen
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#5 nakji

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:10 AM

Brownies! Heelllllsss-yeah!

I just made a pan last night with the Mark Bittman recipe, as a trade for a box of Crystal Lite Raspberry Ice (Ironic?). Ex-pat life is a series of barters sometimes.

Anyway, I love how simple the recipe is, especially considering my kitchen - I make the whole thing in the saucepan I use to melt the chocolate.

I'll make some this week - maybe I'll doctor them with a bit of Cafe Mai coffee essence.

Stay tuned.

#6 paulraphael

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:25 AM

I'm curious to know what qualities people like in brownies. I've always been partial to having as intense and rich and chocolatey an experience as possible, without the brownie having the quite density and (especially) stickyness of fudge. I just assumed this is what everyone liked, until I stumbled onto a cooks illustrated article (one of those quests for the perfect ______ installments) on brownies. The author's ideal was specifically for something closer to cake than what I like.

So where does everyone else stand?

Brownies are the one recipe I've gotten from my mom. For most other desserts I go to people like Pierre Hermé and Alice Medrich and Gilles Bajolles, and experiment with their ideas until I need bypass surgery. But mom's recipe is so right on that I've hardly even tweaked it.

I have no idea where she got it (it definitely isn't original) so I don't know if it would be within the rules to post it.

#7 Lkfarkas

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:59 AM

I love my brownies a bit crunchy on the top, and fudgy in the middle. No nuts, either, please. Mmmmmm.
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#8 jende

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:06 AM

I like a brownie that's a brownie: not cake and not fudge. A nice crackly top is a bonus. The best I've found to match my idea of "perfect" is the King Arthur Flour "On-The-Fence Brownie."

#9 hummingbirdkiss

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:19 AM

I would love to do this!

my husband makes perfect brownies (one of three things he is able to cook in life) I will have to see what he does and try to copy it..

fudgy but cooked center (I hate raw gooey brownies)
and a nice crackly shell on top ...very rich and darkly chocolatey are the best

big chunks of walnuts are fine with me

I hope I dont gain 10lbs with this one

Edited by hummingbirdkiss, 19 March 2007 - 11:21 AM.


#10 Anna N

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:02 PM

I don't particularly like to eat brownies but the rest of the family do! So I thought I would join this bake-off and kill two birds with one stone. :biggrin:

These are from a recipe on epicurious.com and I followed it to the letter. Unfortunately I cannot tell you if they are good or bad brownies until someone else tastes them!

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#11 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:12 PM

If anyone can develop a brownie recipe based on Hermé's salted chocolate "World Peace" cookie in Dorie Greenspan's new book, I'd send them homecured bacon for life. (Ix-nay on the uts-nay.)
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#12 Kerry Beal

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:15 PM

If anyone can develop a brownie recipe based on Hermé's salted chocolate "World Peace" cookie in Dorie Greenspan's new book, I'd send them homecured bacon for life. (Ix-nay on the uts-nay.)

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I'll accept this challenge - but I'll need the recipe of the World Peace cookies (I know someone who has the book). Is it OK Chris if they aren't quite as sweet at the cookies?

#13 sheetz

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:32 PM

I want to participate! But here's the catch: I want to use up what I have on hand without having to buy any other ingredients.

What I have on hand:

An 11.5 oz bag of Ghirardeli bittersweet chocolate chips
1 lb of chestnuts
4 oz of Nestle cocoa powder
Typical pantry items (eggs, flour, sugar, etc.)

In particular I'm interested in using up as much as I can of the first two items. Can anyone recommend a good recipe?

#14 paulraphael

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:47 PM

Here's a brownie theory question (and if no one has an answer, this might be a self-nomination for a test ...)

The recipe I like uses a food processor to grind the chocolate and incorporate all the ingredients (including the tiny amount of flour at the end). The only ingredient that gets melted is the butter. I haven't come across any other chocolate recipes that use ground chocolate instead of melted.

I gather the reason for grinding is either 1) for convenience, 2) an adaptation for an appliance cookbook, or 3) it does something different to the texture than melting.

Any thoughts?

#15 snowangel

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:48 PM

I do not want a cake-like brownie. If I want cake, I'll eat cake. I'm really partial to a gooey brownie, but I love the edge/crispy bits. To that end, I espied with interest this new item: the Bakers Edge pan. Anyone tried one?

My go-to brownies are from Maida Heatter's cookbooks. The Heath Bar Brownies make me weak in the knees. Note to self -- add Heath Bars to the grocery list!
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#16 KatieM

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:01 PM

I'm in!

I just bought Baking, From My Home to Yours, and there are something like a dozen brownie recipes in there, which I am thrilled about.

My go-to brownie recipe is "Best Ever Brownies" from Baking with Julia. They have a lovely merigue-y crackly top, and are perfectly fudgy and chocolately on the inside. I always make double the number I think I need, because people get mad at you when you run out.

I think I need to try Ling's recipe, though. Her's look like they might be perfect.

#17 Beanie

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:14 PM

I'll definitely be part of this challenge, but I haven't decided which recipe(s) to try. I like a fudgy brownie and have been happy using Ling's recipe (RecipeGullet) and one of Dorie Greenspan's that appears in both Baking, From My Home to Yours and Baking with Julia. Both are pretty gooey and delicious, but I'm up for something new and a little less gooey. This will be fun. :biggrin:
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#18 Kerry Beal

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 03:58 PM

Posted Image

Here is my regular brownie recipe, known humbly as World's Best Brownies. This recipe started it's life as a cookie in a women's magazine, and after making them I realized they made better brownies than cookies. A little tweeking - decreasing the sugar, changing the walnuts for pecans - and I had this fabulous fudgy brownie, a little crispy on the top, just plain delicious.

#19 Pan

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 04:14 PM

I'm curious to know what qualities people like in brownies.[...]

View Post


I won't be baking anything for this thread, but as a consumer of brownies, I can weigh in here:

The richest, most delicious brownies I've ever had were raspberry brownies that, believe it or not, I used to buy in a now long-defunct convenience store just east of the corner of 42nd St. and 6th Av. in Manhattan. I don't know where they got them from, but they were made with very fudgy, very dark chocolate and delicious raspberry jam. I gained a lot of weight (14 lbs., I think?) the year that I ate those regularly after classes at CUNY Graduate Center, which was in a building about halfway between 5th and 6th on 42nd St. in those days (1987-88).

I definitely agree that cake and brownies are and should be mutually exclusive. Nuts are fine, but I prefer them to be really good nuts like pecans or perhaps hazelnuts, not walnuts, and I'd probably prefer them fairly finely chopped. But I think it's better to use that space for more chocolate or more of some other delicious but non-crunchy ingredient. If you want crunchiness, use some chocolate chips that remain in chip form or crisp the top, as others have said. Hazelnut butter instead of crunchy nuts might be interesting, though.

#20 etalanian

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 04:18 PM

God, Kerry, that photo made my mouth water just looking at it. I looooove nuts with my chocolate.

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#21 MsRamsey

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:15 PM

I love my brownies a bit crunchy on the top, and fudgy in the middle. No nuts, either, please. Mmmmmm.

That's exactly how I like my brownie. Has to be very chocolatey (surprisingly, some are not!). I'm looking forward to this challenge. I usually use Alice Medrich's recipe from Bittersweet using . . . bittersweet chocolate. There are variations using cocoa powder or unsweetened chocolate. The unsweetened chocolate version has done me very, very wrong (won't bake all the way in the time specified or even much longer, won't come out of the pan gracefully, ends up being an unserveable mess).

I personally don't like chocolate chips, fruit flavors, or (quel horreur!!!) cream cheese in my brownies.

Edited by MsRamsey, 19 March 2007 - 05:17 PM.

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#22 hummingbirdkiss

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:42 PM

my husband said the recipe he uses was Katherine Hepburn's from forever ago ...he will not tell me ... (I will have to look for that one unless someone here has it and would like to share?) and he has been doing it for so long it is all from what he says is his "sharp memory, skilled technique and gentle hand " :raz:

the only other thing this man makes in grilled cheese and scrambled eggs!!!


I am going to watch him and then copy his technique!!! I know the pan he uses is only alloted for brownies he said it does make a HUGE difference in the nice shell they have....

#23 Chihiro

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:08 PM

I'm curious to know what qualities people like in brownies.[...]

View Post


The richest, most delicious brownies I've ever had were raspberry brownies that, believe it or not, I used to buy in a now long-defunct convenience store just east of the corner of 42nd St. and 6th Av. in Manhattan. I don't know where they got them from, but they were made with very fudgy, very dark chocolate and delicious raspberry jam. I gained a lot of weight (14 lbs., I think?) the year that I ate those regularly after classes at CUNY Graduate Center, which was in a building about halfway between 5th and 6th on 42nd St. in those days (1987-88).

View Post

:raz: Brownie and raspberry jam sounds amazing! I'd love to try that. Was the raspberry swirled into the batter?

There're so many brownie recipes I'd love to try this week. I always eat too many brownies :huh: I'll try to actually get them to school before I eat them all :unsure:

#24 K8memphis

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:40 PM

I make a real moist fudgie but browniefull browniemous magical brownie from Jeri Dry and Alix Engle's sweet little cookie book, Cookiemania. Love this little book. I lost it once and my daughter who got me the original, replaced it. It's out of print but just a rock solid every cookie 100% perfect book. Then of course I found the original. I should give her one, but I thoroughly enjoy the luxury of two.

Well anyway back to brownies. So I take some dried cherries, like three inches in a narrow coffee cup and pour in like an inch and a half of rum. Cover securely with plastic wrap. Microzap this watching closely so that it just bubbles up nicely for a coupla minutes so most all the alcohol evaporates. So then when it's removed from the microwave, the plastic will suck down in the cup and all the rest of the liquid will get sucked into the cherries. It's kinda fun to do. Sometimes the plastic pops open from the strain.

But then I chop the cherries and add them to the mixture with a tad of almond extract. So you have killer chocolate covered cherry brownies :biggrin:

For a nice topper for brownies, right out of the oven, I slice them, and drizzle a confectioner sugar glaze. Because they are sliced, the drizzle can sink down in the nooks and crannies and that gives a light crispiness too. And a nice complement to the intense chocolateness. If you really wanna go all out, add a dash of vanilla to the glaze.

These brownies come out with an amazing texture. They melt in your mouth.

Some brownie musings for y'all.

#25 laniloa

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:49 PM

I'm a big fan of Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies for thick, fudgy brownies with a crisp top. They are a great base recipe to add nuts, caramel, chile, malt, ginger, or whatever you are in the mood for.

My office recently went nuts for Dorie Greenspan's mint brownies and honey nut brownies. I don't typically like nuts in my brownies, but these are more cake-like then brownie-like.

#26 JFLinLA

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 09:32 PM

Can blondies count? If so, then my favorite all already posted in the recipe archive -- Coffee Chocolate Chip Blondies with Kahlua!
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#27 Pan

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:36 PM


The richest, most delicious brownies I've ever had were raspberry brownies that, believe it or not, I used to buy in a now long-defunct convenience store just east of the corner of 42nd St. and 6th Av. in Manhattan. I don't know where they got them from, but they were made with very fudgy, very dark chocolate and delicious raspberry jam. I gained a lot of weight (14 lbs., I think?) the year that I ate those regularly after classes at CUNY Graduate Center, which was in a building about halfway between 5th and 6th on 42nd St. in those days (1987-88).

View Post

:raz: Brownie and raspberry jam sounds amazing! I'd love to try that. Was the raspberry swirled into the batter?[...]

View Post


No. As I remember, it was in a layer right near the top, with just a bit of dark chocolate over it.

#28 miladyinsanity

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 05:01 AM

If anyone can develop a brownie recipe based on Hermé's salted chocolate "World Peace" cookie in Dorie Greenspan's new book, I'd send them homecured bacon for life. (Ix-nay on the uts-nay.)

View Post

I'll accept this challenge - but I'll need the recipe of the World Peace cookies (I know someone who has the book). Is it OK Chris if they aren't quite as sweet at the cookies?

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The recipe. ETA: The cookies aren't all that sweet though.

Chrisamirault, this is possibly the best idea I've heard in my life! (albeit rather short life)

To answer Paulraphael's question, I like fudgy and must have crackly top. I like my brownies plain, no nuts, even chocolate chips are usually iffy.

I am going to try adding chocolate chip cookies to brownies this weekend, since it'd be a horrible waste otherwise.

Edited by miladyinsanity, 20 March 2007 - 05:02 AM.

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#29 SusanGiff

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 06:08 AM

I do not want a cake-like brownie.  If I want cake, I'll eat cake.  I'm really partial to a gooey brownie, but I love the edge/crispy bits.  To that end, I espied with interest this new item:  the Bakers Edge pan.  Anyone tried one?


View Post


I bought the Baker's Edge pan after (long after) reading about the inventor, who won grant money after coming up with this cool idea. It's fun--everyone does get an edge piece, and couple of lucky people get the ends, which actually have THREE edges. If you like that bit, this pan is great.

Our family favorite, after a few weeks of testing, is in the Cook's Illustrated best recipes book. It's a nice cross between cakey (of which I disapprove) and fudgy. But I'm willing to experiment.

#30 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 06:23 AM

If anyone can develop a brownie recipe based on Hermé's salted chocolate "World Peace" cookie in Dorie Greenspan's new book, I'd send them homecured bacon for life. (Ix-nay on the uts-nay.)

View Post

I'll accept this challenge - but I'll need the recipe of the World Peace cookies (I know someone who has the book). Is it OK Chris if they aren't quite as sweet at the cookies?

View Post


Recipe above. Not sweet is good.

Can blondies count? 

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Feh: blondies are an abomination against brownies and, possibly, food in general -- although a salted caramel blondie... now, that might work....
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