Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Brownie Test

We recently had a function at my church wherein I offered to contribute approximately 130 brownies.  Yeah, a ton, right?  But they were supposed to be bite sized, so it wasn't SO terrible of an undertaking.  This gave me the opportunity to (A) purchase a kit of numerous circle biscuit cutters (FUN!) and (B) put my super awesome brownie recipe to the test.  Ha! 

Here is the thing.  Lots of people think that some particular brownie recipe is THE BEST.  Right?  Well, I do too.  I think I have the best brownie recipe.  In fact, there are some random people in my neighborhood who know me as "the brownie lady" because ONE TIME, MANY YEARS AGO, I brought these brownies to a wine tasting event and was identified as the person who made the brownies.  When these random people see me in the neighborhood, they will mention those brownies and how they still remember them.  It is kind of bizarre, really.  But also, a testament to how incredible these brownies are, right?!? 

Recently, someone whose blog I follow (who will remain unidentified) mentioned a brownie recipe that she had found that was THE BEST.  Humph, I thought.  But I followed her link to another blog and checked out the recipe.  And I printed it out because then I was curious.  These were described as the perfect brownie, and the more I read, the more it piqued my interest. 

Since I had to make a truck-load of brownies for church, I decided that this was my opportunity to put the brownie recipes to the test.  We will call the blog recipe A, and my recipe B, okay?  There were a few big differences between the two recipes, the major one being in the chocolate itself.  My recipe (B) uses Dutch cocoa powder and chocolate chips.  The other recipe (A) used bittersweet chocolate melted with chocolate chips.  Note something here:  Both used chocolate chips, but in one recipe they are melted.  Another big difference is in the treatment of the butter.  In both recipes they are melted, but they are treated differently.  In my recipe (B), the butter is melted, then sugar is added, and the mixture is heated again.  In the other recipe (A), the butter is melted with the bittersweet chocolate and chocolate chips.  The only other difference that I think is significant is in salt.  Recipe B used more salt.

Here are the two pans before they went into the oven.  Recipe B is on the left, and A is on the right.  (Sorry everything is backwards here, with B always being first, but it relates to the brownies in the first picture for the taste test, K?)  Recipe A was written for an 8x8-inch pan and I did not want to double the recipe to make it a 9x11, for pure testing purposes.  Hence, one smaller pan.  Here is something brilliant about that Recipe A, however.  See that foil?  You lay foil into the pan and then spray it with cooking spray, then when you are ready to slice, you can just lift the foil out of the pan, straighten it out, and cut the brownies on a cutting board.  Nice.  And easy cleanup!  Love that.

Here they are freshly out of the oven.

To make this a fair test, I made it blind for my Mr. Clever Mom, because he has an obvious bias.  And I texted my neighbors to see if they wanted to partake in the test as well.  They came running!  I love those neighbors!  

So, scroll back up and look at the taste test photo.  The brownies are labeled accurately, so the blog recipe is A, on the left, and my recipe is B, on the right.

MY RECIPE WON HANDS DOWN.  It was unanimous!  Don't get me wrong, both brownies are yummy and delicious.  We are splitting hairs here, ok?  But here are the reasons I got:  My recipe (B) has more depth of flavor ("A is more one-note chocolate") and the whole chocolate chips that are in the recipe give you an extra chocolate-y burst when you bite in.  Also, my recipe has that nice crackle on the top, the layer that sort of shatters as you bite into it.  I believe that the differences I pointed out above are the reasons for the success of Recipe B.  Obviously, the whole chocolate chips.  I think the extra salt also brings out more flavor in the brownie.  Finally, by melting the sugar a little in the butter, you get the crackly top.  

It was a fun experiment!  This doesn't mean that I won't test other brownie recipes.  I may find more interesting recipes and give them a shot sometime.  But for now, my original recipe remains THE BOMB-DIGGITY BROWNIE.  Want to make it yourself?  Here's the recipe!  You might get a silly happy-bliss smile on your face after eating one of these brownies, just warning you. 

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