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.
I decided to try to make The Baked Brownie, from the Baked cook book.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
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.
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.
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!