Almost Winter Brownie Experiment

I saw someone make brownies from scratch recently and it looked unnecessarily complicated. How can it be that hard? I'M gonna make brownies, I thought. We'll see how easy this really is.

I made this rash decision while standing in the store without a recipe. I figured I had everything I needed at home except the chocolate. My choices were bittersweet (or is it unsweetened?) baking chocolate or chips, semi-sweet chocolate or chips, or Dutch process cocoa powder. I decided to go for the latter because it sounded exotic. I mean, it's DUTCH, right?! A small bag (about 1.5 cups) cost around $3.50.

I got home and checked ValleyWriter's brownie recipes, but it turns out she uses semi-sweet chips. Gah! Next I googled. That is how I found Best Cocoa Brownies at epicurious. This is it, I thought.

Then the madness began. First, you're supposed to put a heatproof bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water. I have a gas stove, so how is this different than putting a heatproof bowl directly on the gas? (It just sits on the bottom of the skillet, right over the flame. Then the barely simmering water starts evaporating fast because it's in such a wide container. I almost wished I owned a microwave, even though microwaving is not in the recipe.)

Next, melt and stir the mixture until it is smooth and almost too hot to touch. I liked this step because I kept having to put my finger in the chocolate to test it. Then I'd lick it off. Except this got tiresome after the stuff REFUSED to heat up. I had preheated my oven by this time, so I decided to cheat and stick the bowl in the oven for 5 minutes. The mixture never did get smooth (that is, the sugar I used never melted, but was still crunchy even after the oven). Whatever.

Next step. That would be to... wait. I was bad at this part too. I was supposed to wait until the mixture was cool enough that it wouldn't scramble the 2 cold eggs I was adding. Instead, I decided that if I stirred really really quickly, the eggs wouldn't even have time to scramble. This worked to some extent. What little scrambling I did see was quickly stirred out of existence. Finally I added the flour and beat it 40 more times, per the recipe.

Then into the foil-lined pan (for easy dislodging of the super-dense brownies). Notice that other than eggs, there is no leavening in this recipe. The result is like one of those flourless death-by-chocolate cakes. I was supposed to bake it until a toothpick in the middle was still a bit sticky. I baked it an extra five minutes because it just seemed TOO sticky.

The result--super-dark brownie-shaped chocolate bombs. The ones toward the middle of the pan had the pudding-like vibe mentioned in the recipe notes. The ones toward the outside were a tiny bit cakier (i.e., cooked through more). I kind of wish this recipe had used a double boiler and, um, a blender. But the brownies were not bad. Not bad at all. Please just make sure you have about 90 minutes to bake in, plus 2+ hours of cooling time!


ValleyWriter said...

Oooh - these look ooey-gooey yummy! I have made brownies with cocoa before, but the recipe I used made them too cakey. That's why I switched to chocolate chips. I'll have to give this recipe a try, since clearly it isn't too cakey at all!

Anonymous said...

I used to make brownies as a twelve-year old kid when there was nothing else to snack on in our house. It was easy to do, as long as I followed the directions on the Baker's Chocolate box. The mess in the kitchen got left for my mom to deal with. She was not happy with that, but I told her it was either that or I stole lunch money from the cabinet and rode my bike to the 7-11 and bought gum (forbidden in our dentist-fanatic household). So she gave in. Now that I'm er, "middle ages" and medieval, I have forgotten how to use kitchen tools. Making ANYTHING in the kitchen is, as Barbie says about math (or was it meth?) "haaard" (she couldn't have been talking about Ken). But put me in front of a bar b que or campfire and suddenly I become instant cook/chef. Go figure. I need to get out our copy of "Joy of Cooking" which is a CLASSIC, and make things again, like when I was a little kid and anything seemed possible (as long as somebody cleaned up!). Those brownies were delicious, by the way!
-Troy McClure
Host of "Peel Slowly & See" Wed. nites after Kitty, 8-9 PM EST