Saturday, April 9, 2011

Operation: Brownie Perfection

For about the past four or five months, everyone I work with has been bitching about the fact that I have not made any treats for them to consume in a long while.  Then we got a new girl at work; she's young, she bakes.  At first I rolled my eyes when I was told she bakes.  I am the baker.  She couldn't possibly compare.  Right? Yeahhh, about that.  I tasted a s'mores mini cupcake she made-- it was delicious.  Then, mere days later she brought in vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow filling and topped with chocolate icing.  It was extremely sweet and also, delicious.  I may have met my match.  I haven't baked legit cake or cupcakes in probably two years.  I have recently been focused on cheesecakes-- no one can touch me when it comes to cheesecake.  The boys kept demanding a bake off, I continuously declined.  Then one day I decided I would make whatever one of the boys wanted me to make, any treat he could think of. 

Brownies.  He wanted brownies.  My smile dropped along with my spirits.  I have never made a batch of brownies that were even remotely good.  Brownies were my nemesis. 
I began to have flashbacks of when I was working at Ruby Tuesday's a few years back.  My friend and manager requested marbled brownies.  I thought nothing of it, "Okay, I'll bring them on Wednesday," I had agreed.   Wednesday morning as I set out with a brownie recipe, I decided at the first taste that brownies from scratch were no where near as good as brownies from a box.  For a week I tried to alter this recipe to make edible brownies; I bought cocoa powder, dutch processed cocoa powder, bars of unsweetened, semi-sweet, and bittersweet baking chocolate, and chocolate syrup.  Nothing I tried would work.  Seeing as this was a few years ago I couldn't tell you where I went wrong, all I know for sure is that nothing went right.  After I wasted two days worth of tips on chocolate, flour, and extracts and seven days of my life, I gave up.  It can't be done.  That was the only thing that kept me at ease, my self assurance that it couldn't be done.  With that said...
Brownies.  I had to man-up; face this challenge.  I wanted to buy a new cookbook since Borders is going out of business and it would be at least 40% off.  After hours bojangling between four or five cookbooks, I chose, "Baked. New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. The cover said they had the best brownie as voted by a The Today Show, so it seemed promising.

Day One  
I decided to try to make The Baked Brownie, from the Baked cook book.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbl dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

I didn't actually have dark unsweetened cocoa powder, just regular.  My dark chocolate was already sweetened and I chose to omit the espresso powder, 1. because I had none, and 2.  because I didn't want it to taste like a mocha frappuccino.  I altered the amounts of sugar to help it not create instant cavities upon first bite, other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  The result was the most chocolatey thing I have ever tried.  Wayyy too much chocolate!  So dense, so sweet, so chocolatey!   That was not a winner.  Even my stoner brother didn't really want to eat them, best-brownie-as-rated-by-the-today-show-my-ass!  So far Operation: Brownie Perfection was not off to the best of starts.

Day Two

I decided to switch things up and just alter this recipe.  Instead of using sweetened Venezuelan dark chocolate I opted for plain unsweetened Baker's chocolate bars, and used only eight ounces of it, along with the unsweetened cocoa powder and the original amount of sugar; I also doubled the vanilla and used one less egg.  Biting my lip, I made my brother try it again.  "Better than yesterday, but I don't know what's wrong with it.  Definitely needs to be gooier, though."  To me, it was still too chocolatey.

I did some research on the world wide web about brownies, the science of them and all, and got a few pointers.  For a chewier brownie, use more flour.  Fudgier, add an extra egg yolk.  Never use cake flour, it makes too light and crumbly of a texture for brownies, amongst other tips.  I took it all in, tried to clear my mind, and then went to work on another batch.

Day Three

 I really felt as though this was going to be my perfect recipe, so I pulled out my Perfect Brownie Pan that I received two Christmas' ago.  

I used even less chocolate, only six ounces this time, and left everything else the same as Day Two's modifications.  I let it bake for almost five minutes less to insure a "gooier" texture.  I tried one of the brownies while they were still hot and it tasted pretty good to me, but I can' t trust my own opinion in this.  

I had to wait until my brother got home from band practice to try one.  I wrapped one in a napkin and set it where we keep the keys, to make sure he didn't miss it.  Having to rush to work and only having a minute or two at the house before heading in, he took the brownie with him.  I waited.  An hour later I had still not received any feedback at all about the brownie, what the hell!  I texted him myself  "so?", and the equally short text I received back had just one word: "bomb". Finally!  I acheived what I set out to do, I was so excited I decided to make more brownies :) 

The next brownies I made were even better than my original perfect batch.  Since each time I made brownies I used a double recipe, they were super thick, but for my next batch I just made a single.  I started out with a graham cracker crust, mixing graham cracker crumbs with butter and vanilla and pressing them into the bottom of the pan.  After I baked that for about ten minutes I put the single batch of brownie mix on top and baked it for about fifteen minutes, as opposed to the thirty minutes I'd take to bake the double batch.  I wanted to garnish the brownies with some sort of marshmallow topping, but someone in my house apparently took it upon themselves to eat my marshmallows and marshmallow fluff.   I tell them the third shelf in the pantry is not to be touched, but no one ever listens to me, smh.  Without the marshmallow topping they were still good,but I really feel like that would have put them over the edge and made them that much more orgasmic.  Next time there will be a marshmallow topping.  Next time...

So since Operation: Brownie Perfection was such a success, I feel like I want to perfect white chocolate brownies.  That's not a cute or fun name, so I thought that could I call them... eureka!  Whiteys.  I could make brownies and whiteys!  I told one of my friends my amazing idea on the book of faces chat and the response I got was less than enthusiastic.  Yeah, that's definitely a racial slur... Oops! so I am going to make white chocolate brownies, but I am still working on the name.  Any and all suggestions are welcome!


  1. Brownies and blancas. You're welcome, haha.

    - Linz

  2. its gotta be way more creative and fun than blancas!

  3. bahahahahahaha yes, i know, i thought it was brilliant. turns out, not so much