Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brownie Battle

You might remember that I've had some brownie blunders in the past. In fact, I've just never had fantastic luck with bars, in general. My edges come out crisp and delicious, but my centers are almost always undercooked. (And please don't recommend that stupid "all edges" pan ... unlike most people, I think the middle brownies are the best!)

After my biggest brownie fail, my BFF saved the day with a pretty decent recipe. Her fudgy brownies were amazing, but I still felt like we hadn't quite achieved perfection. Then Bill decided to make brownies on Valentine's Day. I wished him luck and explained my brownie blues. And he proceeded to make some of the most delicious, thick and fudgy brownies I'd ever tasted. Needless to say, I was pissed. This called for a brownie bake-off.

My original intent was to use the same recipe he did, confident that I could make them better. Well, when the day came for me to bake my brownies, I was short an egg. So I had to improvise. He'd used an America's Test Kitchen recipe, so I figured it would be easy enough to locate a similar one (that hopefully called for 2 eggs instead of 3!). Instead, I came across a Quicker Turtle Brownie recipe in a past issue of Cook's Country which looked nothing like Bill's recipe. Since I was going to have to improvise anyway, I may as well start from scratch.

Following the general steps of their recipe, I concocted the one below. It has significantly less chocolate, butter, and sugar than Bill's recipe, and it's a bit more cakey than fudgy. But the one complaint I heard about Bill's brownies was that they were SO dense and rich. So I think mine struck just the right balance!

While we didn't compare them side-by-side because they were a baked a couple weeks apart (which explains why I don't have a picture of Bill's version), the memory was fresh. I don't think he's actually admitted it yet, but I definitely think that my recipe takes the cake ... which makes up for that pumpkin pie throwdown that I lost.

My "Quicker, Basic" Brownies
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, microwave butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Do your best to let them cool completely before slicing and serving :)

Bill's "Chewy, Fudgy" Brownies
5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spread into corners, and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool, remove from pan, and slice just before serving.

1 comment:

  1. This competition is a total jackpot for anyone close enough to catch a some of this action. I wish I wish I could be a taste tester!