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Kerry Beal

Brownies -- Bake-Off I

220 posts in this topic

I'm not a huge baker, but I have been on a quest for the perfect brownie for quite some time. To me, a brownie should be very chocolatey, dense, chewy with nice glossy top. Definitely not cake-like (although I've been know to eat those too). Nuts I can take or leave, but I generally don't add them when I am in charge.

Recently I've made:

Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

Katherine Hepburn's

Baker's One Bowl Brownies

Nick Malgieri Supernatural Brownies

Believe it or not, the ones that I liked the best are the Baker's One Bowl. Next up on my list is to be the Fine Cooking/Chewy Brownies. Sounds like those might just have them all beat.

Oh, and I don't like blondies or cheesecake brownies.

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Hey Susan and Trishiad, glad to hear you liked the recipe!

Here's the modified* Scharffen Berger brownie recipe that I like to use now in case you don't have the book.

Melt 8 tbsp unsalted butter with 5 oz. chopped, high-quality bittersweet chocolate, and stir in 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir in 4 yolks off the heat.

Pour mixture into bowl, add about 4.5 tbsp cake flour, 6.5 tbsp cocoa (I use Valrhona), 1 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt (and some cinnamon or espresso powder if you like) and stir.

In another bowl, whip 4 egg whites. Gradually add 1/3 cup more sugar and whip til stiff peaks. Fold chocolate mixture into whites in thirds.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. I prefer to see moist crumbs when a skewer is inserted, though the recipe says bake until the skewer comes out clean. (The recipe says 30-35 minutes but I prefer them a touch underbaked so they'll set up a little more as they cool and stay very moist.)

I like to top these with ganache. You can also mix in 1/2 cup of nuts if you want in the batter.

*The original recipe had 4 oz. of chopped chocolate, and equal parts (1/3 cup) of flour and cocoa, no salt, and a bit more sugar.


Edited by Ling (log)

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This thread reminded me of my all-time favourite Brownie recipe. I, in fact, stumbled upon it just recently while watching the lovely Nigella Lawson on Food TV Canada at Christmas time. It's her "Triple Chocolate Brownies" featured on her chocolate episode. They are exactly what I love...rich, dense, chocolatey and absolutely nut-free. They have chunks of chocolate in them which, in my opinion, just adds to the decadence of this Brownie. She also has a very similar recipe called "Snowflecked Brownies" from Feast.

I forgot why I hadn't made them since December and then I looked at the recipe again. It calls for 12 oz of bittersweet PLUS another cup of white chocolate chips and semisweet chocolate chips (in December, I just used all semisweet). It's an expensive recipe!

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Cleo, I am very very interested in your testing, and how the winner compared to Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies. Nick's are my favorite, in part because I have the recipe memorized. I can get it together very quickly and always keep appropriate chocolate and dark brown sugar in the house to make them. I've mailed these all over the world to people as gifts . . .

Like most everyone, I prefer a fudgey, chewy brownie with a shiny crinkly top.

However, there is a bakery in Hoboken that makes a very good brownie, or at least, when they're fresh, they're very good -- the bottoms are somehow dusted with granulated sugar and this adds to the texture, they're a wee bit on the cakey side, and they're frosted with a very soft milk chocolate frosting.

No one has mentioned frosting. For some, this is gilding the lily, but I like that texture/taste thing that happens when the teeth come down through the soft fluffy icing and then hit the harder fudgy part with denser darker chocolate.

I once had a very charming conversation with a woman I met while browsing cookbooks (I do this a lot, chat me up in your local B&N) about our favorite Maida Heatter recipes. She swore by Maida's Christina's Brownies, which I've yet to make but haven't forgotten.

I don't think folks have really mentioned what chocolate they're using, which I think is important. I use a 70 percent Valrhona.

I also had an absolutely haunting espresso brownie once, at the Taste Bud catering shop on Third Avenue. Once. Still remember . . .


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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World Peace Brownies on the left, World Peace cookies on the right.  Tomorrow I'll take them to work and get folks to taste them and see what they think.  I have a cold, totally stuffed head and can't taste a darn thing, so I'll have to count on other taste buds to tell me how they compare.

If they taste similar I'll post the recipe.

I'm dying to hear how the World Peace Brownies came out.

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World Peace Brownies on the left, World Peace cookies on the right.  Tomorrow I'll take them to work and get folks to taste them and see what they think.  I have a cold, totally stuffed head and can't taste a darn thing, so I'll have to count on other taste buds to tell me how they compare.

If they taste similar I'll post the recipe.

I'm dying to hear how the World Peace Brownies came out.

Everybody loved them, but the texture wasn't quite what I was after. I want the brownies to have the same sandy crunch to them that the cookies did. I made the cookies with 1/2 cup of coarse dark brown sugar only (instead of the 2/3 cup brown and 1/4 cup white called for). So my next experiment will have some turbinido sugar stirred in at the very last minute, with the salt.

I'll let you know how they turn out.

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Cleo, I am very very interested in your testing, and how the winner compared to Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies. 

Don't get me wrong. Rarely will I ever turn away any brownie. But I can't seem to find a "go to" recipe that I LOVE. Maybe I don't even know what I'm looking for, but trust me, I will know it when I find it.

Also, I think I did something wrong when I made the Outrageous Brownies, because they never really firmed up in the pan. I literally had to scoop everything out and dump it in the trash. A rare occasion in my house, when a batch of cooked brownies goes straight into the trash!

Maybe at some point I need to do a side by side tasting of the different ones that people like in this thread (oh yeah, just what I need!)

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World Peace Brownies on the left, World Peace cookies on the right.  Tomorrow I'll take them to work and get folks to taste them and see what they think.  I have a cold, totally stuffed head and can't taste a darn thing, so I'll have to count on other taste buds to tell me how they compare.

If they taste similar I'll post the recipe.

I'm dying to hear how the World Peace Brownies came out.

Everybody loved them, but the texture wasn't quite what I was after. I want the brownies to have the same sandy crunch to them that the cookies did. I made the cookies with 1/2 cup of coarse dark brown sugar only (instead of the 2/3 cup brown and 1/4 cup white called for). So my next experiment will have some turbinido sugar stirred in at the very last minute, with the salt.

I'll let you know how they turn out.

I was imagining that you could do a layered brownie with the World Peace Cookies. Use the cookies as a bottom crust with the brownies on top. Though as crumbly as the cookies can get, I don't know if they'd hold up well once they were cut.


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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This thread reminded me of my all-time favourite Brownie recipe.  I, in fact, stumbled upon it just recently while watching the lovely Nigella Lawson on Food TV Canada at Christmas time.  It's her "Triple Chocolate Brownies" featured on her chocolate episode. 

Nigella's brownie recipe is my favourite too and it has always been very popular when I have taken a batch in to work. The recipe does call for a lot of chocolate but it is very easy to make and every time I've made them they turned out really well.

I have quite a lot of oddments of chocolate leftover form confectionery making right now so it could be time to make some more brownies.

Jill

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World Peace Brownies on the left, World Peace cookies on the right.  Tomorrow I'll take them to work and get folks to taste them and see what they think.  I have a cold, totally stuffed head and can't taste a darn thing, so I'll have to count on other taste buds to tell me how they compare.

If they taste similar I'll post the recipe.

I'm dying to hear how the World Peace Brownies came out.

Everybody loved them, but the texture wasn't quite what I was after. I want the brownies to have the same sandy crunch to them that the cookies did. I made the cookies with 1/2 cup of coarse dark brown sugar only (instead of the 2/3 cup brown and 1/4 cup white called for). So my next experiment will have some turbinido sugar stirred in at the very last minute, with the salt.

I'll let you know how they turn out.

I was imagining that you could do a layered brownie with the World Peace Cookies. Use the cookies as a bottom crust with the brownies on top. Though as crumbly as the cookies can get, I don't know if they'd hold up well once they were cut.

Interesting idea. My brownies have big chunks of chocolate and nuts in them, maybe I could replace the nuts with chunks of world peace cookies. We could call them universal peace brownies.

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gallery_34671_3697_23098.jpg

World Peace Brownies on the left, World Peace cookies on the right.  Tomorrow I'll take them to work and get folks to taste them and see what they think.  I have a cold, totally stuffed head and can't taste a darn thing, so I'll have to count on other taste buds to tell me how they compare.

If they taste similar I'll post the recipe.

I'm dying to hear how the World Peace Brownies came out.

Everybody loved them, but the texture wasn't quite what I was after. I want the brownies to have the same sandy crunch to them that the cookies did. I made the cookies with 1/2 cup of coarse dark brown sugar only (instead of the 2/3 cup brown and 1/4 cup white called for). So my next experiment will have some turbinido sugar stirred in at the very last minute, with the salt.

I'll let you know how they turn out.

I was imagining that you could do a layered brownie with the World Peace Cookies. Use the cookies as a bottom crust with the brownies on top. Though as crumbly as the cookies can get, I don't know if they'd hold up well once they were cut.

Interesting idea. My brownies have big chunks of chocolate and nuts in them, maybe I could replace the nuts with chunks of world peace cookies. We could call them universal peace brownies.

I almost did that with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I wonder if you can get that sandy texture by removing an egg.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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maybe I could replace the nuts with chunks of world peace cookies.  We could call them universal peace brownies.

Maybe it should be chunks of frozen WPC dough instead of the baked cookies... then you might get a brownie with (hopefully) chunks of soft (rather than crisp) cookie in it. Hmmm have some WPC dough in the freezer, must try!!

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maybe I could replace the nuts with chunks of world peace cookies.  We could call them universal peace brownies.

Maybe it should be chunks of frozen WPC dough instead of the baked cookies... then you might get a brownie with (hopefully) chunks of soft (rather than crisp) cookie in it. Hmmm have some WPC dough in the freezer, must try!!

But we wouldn't be getting that trademark WPC sandy texture.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Hey Susan and Trishiad, glad to hear you liked the recipe!

Here's the modified* Scharffen Berger brownie recipe that I like to use now in case you don't have the book.

Melt 8 tbsp unsalted butter with 5 oz. chopped, high-quality bittersweet chocolate, and stir in 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir in 4 yolks off the heat.

Pour mixture into bowl, add about 4.5 tbsp cake flour, 6.5 tbsp cocoa (I use Valrhona), 1 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt (and some cinnamon or espresso powder if you like) and stir.

In another bowl, whip 4 egg whites. Gradually add 1/3 cup more sugar and whip til stiff peaks. Fold chocolate mixture into whites in thirds.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. I prefer to see moist crumbs when a skewer is inserted, though the recipe says bake until the skewer comes out clean. (The recipe says 30-35 minutes but I prefer them a touch underbaked so they'll set up a little more as they cool and stay very moist.)

I like to top these with ganache. You can also mix in 1/2 cup of nuts if you want in the batter.

*The original recipe had 4 oz. of chopped chocolate, and equal parts (1/3 cup) of flour and cocoa, no salt, and a bit more sugar.

I made these brownies last night using Ling's modified version. I used Callebaut chocolate, non-premium cocoa (duh, totally forgot I had Scharffenberger cocoa on hand :blink: ), a little cinnamon and vanilla extract. Ling didn't say what size pan she used, but I used a 9x12 pyrex (prepared with pan spray, parchment, pan spray),hoping there would be enough batter (an 8 or 9 inch square would have been better, I think.) However, the batter rose beautifully due to the egg white mixture and was finished in about 30 minutes (moist crumbs on skewer.)

Results: excellent but extremely fragile. I tried cutting while still warm (always a mistake but I couldn't wait to taste it with a cold glass of milk :raz: ) and the slice fell apart. I put the whole thing in the freezer and cut them later while frozen, but still couldn't get a clean edge. Nevertheless, they are delicious and I would make them again.

Ling, are yours this fragile? I rarely use cake flour and wonder if this was responsible for the texture along with the beaten egg whites. When I took the pan out of the oven, I noticed the sides of the brownie (through the pyrex glass) had a very open crumb, almost mousse-like. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.


Ilene

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Hi Beanie, wish I could post a pic of the brownies, but my digital camera is broken. The brownies are a bit fragile because they're so moist. I couldn't imagine, for example, wrapping one and putting it in a lunchbox without it suffering...there is too little flour in this recipe to give it a lot of structure, I think. However, I always get perfectly clean, sharp edges when I slice with a good chef's knife. I let them cool down before I cut them, though. These aren't exactly brownies you can eat out of hand on a picnic--a fork and plate is probably necessary, since they're quite delicate.

I should note that the 4.5 tbsp of flour and 6.5 tbsp of cocoa are rough estimates--I just spoon slightly less than 1/3 cup of flour, and slightly more than 1/3 cup cocoa. I've also used AP flour when I was out of cake flour and the brownies also turned out great.

(ETA: Yes, I would describe the texture of these brownies as mousselike as well.)


Edited by Ling (log)

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I'm not a big brownie fan( I much prefer cake), but I'd like to contribute my boss's white chocolate brownies. I absolutely love those.

I did make a brownie about 6 months ago that I really liked. It wasnt so much the recipe, but the technique. The brownie must be baked in a metal pan and when it comes out of the oven, you plunge the pan in freezing cold water. They were very fudgy. I believe the technique is credited to Alice Medrich.

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Double Fudge Brownies This my go to brownie recipe now. I'm not much of a sweet eater, but I like brownies. They must be fudgy, but I also like my brownies frosted.
Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

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Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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OK I win the prize!!!! (kidding of course) These brownies are exactly what I would define as being the perfect brownie ...my friend worked graveyard last night and called me to say that they were "The best #$@#ing brownies I have ever eaten in my life!"

I never did get my husband to give up his recipe so ..I took Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies mentioned previously and kind of combined it with the Bakers' recipe (since I did not have all the chocolate chips I just added more bitter chocolate and about 1/2 cup more sugar) and added 1/4 cup hot coffee with a vanilla bean scraped into and infused in it ...

brownies.jpg

I am extremely proud of this effort and it was for sure the baking boost I needed lately!!! They are rich ..have the perfect shell on the top and are moist and chewy in the middle .very chocolatey!!!! ....I put walnut halves ..all the chocolate is melted in ...and a little coarse salt in (that was a brilliant idea!)

all I can say is ..wow these worked!!! ..I just hope I can repeat it again for my son's birthday and to add to the Recipe Gullet ..these just came out so perfectly!!! humbley speaking of course!!!

what a perfect and badly needed chocolate fix!!!!


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Hi Beanie, wish I could post a pic of the brownies, but my digital camera is broken. The brownies are a bit fragile because they're so moist. I couldn't imagine, for example, wrapping one and putting it in a lunchbox without it suffering...there is too little flour in this recipe to give it a lot of structure, I think. However, I always get perfectly clean, sharp edges when I slice with a good chef's knife. I let them cool down before I cut them, though. These aren't exactly brownies you can eat out of hand on a picnic--a fork and plate is probably necessary, since they're quite delicate.

I should note that the 4.5 tbsp of flour and 6.5 tbsp of cocoa are rough estimates--I just spoon slightly less than 1/3 cup of flour, and slightly more than 1/3 cup cocoa. I've also used AP flour when I was out of cake flour and the brownies also turned out great.

(ETA: Yes, I would describe the texture of these brownies as mousselike as well.)

Ling, thanks for the description. It's definitely more of a plated dessert than an eat-in-the-car-while-driving-to-work type of brownie. :biggrin:


Ilene

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Ok I guess its time to make brownies here.

One of my favorite at this moment , are cheesecake brownies.The cafetteria where I work make these and I love them ,I didnt have the courage to ask for the recipe but I am sure he will give it to me ( maybe in excange of some chocolates?? :laugh: )

I made a formula for these brownies that wasnt bad at all.The recipies I found on the net arent quite satisfaying so I tryed to make my own .I will bake a batch soon then :raz: .


Vanessa

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I made a batch of Nigella Lawson's Snow-Flecked Brownies today. The last time I baked a similar recipe to this--her Triple Chocolate Brownies--I think I must of used a smaller pan (7"x11") thus...thicker Brownies with a longer baking time. Oh well, they were still as tasty. The "flecks" are chunks of white chocolate.

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I made some brownies just yesterday! I use an adaptation of Alton Brown's recipe, and, if I may say so myself, they are absolutely delicious. Nice and chocolatey, and I plan to freeze my next batch so that I can have warm, fudgy brownies for a few weeks without having to buy pound after pound of flour.


I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, so who am I to judge?

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I've put on 5lbs just going through this thread. :biggrin:

Someone has ordered a 2-tier occasion cake from me, and requested it to be a brownie cake. Since brownies are usually 1" high or so, I'm wondering if I can make it work by sandwiching 2 layers of brownies with chocolate ganache or buttercream. I suppose I'll have to make a brownie which is more firm?

Has anyone made a brownie 'cake' before?


TPcal!

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Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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