Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brownie #3 and #4

The delay in making Brownie #3 got the Brownie Guinea Pig Panel grumpy and anxious. As a matter of fact, one of them was quite demanding on getting his brownie fix, me being sick or not. Sheesh. It's not like there's crack in these brownies or anything (as far as they know).

Brownie #4 - Winner!

To get back at the demanding bunch, I decided to do something a little different, bwahahaha! Instead of tweaking Brownie #2, I decided to make Cook's Illustrated Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies. I wanted to make these not just to mess with the BGPP but to see how brownies that use melted chocolate taste compared to only cocoa powder.

I used Baker's semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate since it's what I found at the grocery store, and the Callabaut cocoa powder. Well, I was quite disappointed with the CI brownies overall on 2 counts. From a preparation standpoint, it took twice as long to make than any of the other brownies (double the amount of bowls and utensils) and the recipe's bake time was way too long to actual bake time (actual 25 minutes vs the recipe's 35-40 minutes). I can't imagine what they would have tasted like if I would have gone the full baking time that the recipe called for. Thank goodness I checked it when I did.

From a taste standpoint, it was chocolaty but it lacked depth and sweetness, and it left a funny aftertaste. This could have been a by-product of the chocolates I used. But the biggest thing, IMHO, was the amount of sugar to the amount of chocolate was not right. For me, brownie needs to have a good sweet to chocolate ratio, CI's brownies didn't have it. As a matter of fact, I rate these just slightly above Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies, which is not very good.

The BGPP feedback was almost unanimous that CI brownies were not anywhere near as good as Brownie #2. GP2 was the only one that thought this was good. GP5 and 6 also thought there was kind of a weird aftertaste. But GP5's comments summed it up perfectly, "These brownies didn't make me want another piece."

So with my disappointment hanging over me, I had to immediately work on Brownie #4. The Mister said my reputation was at stake and I had to redeem myself. Guess I got my payback for wanting to mess with the BGPP.

For Brownie #4, I went back to Brownie #2 and decided to work on increasing the chocolate factor without losing the texture or the simplicity. I also wanted to try to simplify the ingredients list, if I can.

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1/4 oil (Canola)
1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 C unbleached AP flour
1 C dutch-processed cocoa powder (Callebaut)
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven at 350°F oven.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs and vanilla (hand mixed with a wooden spoon). Add sugars and mix. Add oil and butter, mix well.

In a large sifter (I use a large fine mesh strainer), combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder together. Sift directly into the wet ingredients. (Add optional chopped nuts at this point.) I think sifting the dry ingredients help with a lighter texture, I don't think it's absolutely necessary and can be skipped if you don't have a sifter. Mix until everything is combined. Try not to overwork the batter at this point.

Lightly sprayed Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan (or an 8" x 8" pan) with oil. Spread mix into pan. Bake for 22-26 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with light crumbs. Cool completely in pan and cut into squares.

* If you want to add nuts, add 1 cup of chopped nuts after sifting dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Taste Results:

CAB: Chocolate taste is more intense than Brownie 2. Had a very good texture, slightly crunchy on top but soft and chewy in the center. Still maintained the good slight fudgy mouth feel on the inside. Very nice chocolate aftertaste.

GP1: Mmm, really good. I like the soft texture in the middle. Good chocolate flavor. Definitely better than Brownie 3, think it's better than Brownie 2.

GP2: Oh, this is good, really good. I like the texture.

GP3: (MIA)

GP4: Thumbs up on this one. Don't ever make that CI brownie again.

GP5: Wow, this one stays with you, like a brownie should. I really like the texture of the outside and then the chewiness on the inside. Really good, I think I like this one better than Brownie #2. I would make this one at home. I want the recipe. (A little later: This is good. Yup, it's good. I want the recipe.)

GP6: Really good. I like the flavor of this one.

So there you have it. Brownie #4 is the winner in taste and quick preparation. Almost as easy and just as tasty as Betty Crocker brownie in a box. It took <10 minutes from set up to final batter. Then another 24 minutes in the oven. I don't think I can streamline it to be any easier than this for homemade brownies. The hardest part is waiting for these to cool.

Maybe the future of the Brownie Experiment is to play around with variations of brownies (e.g., cheesecake brownies). We'll just have to wait and see.

Looking forward to the weekend. Now go and eat well.

4 comments:

KirkK said...

Hi CAB - I love your focus and determination to find the perfect brownie....

Barefoot Plumies said...

Hey Kirk! That's the nice way of putting it. The Mister says it's my OCD at work, lol! Having 10 lbs of cocoa powder left helps with the determination, too. :-P

I'm already thinking about tweaking the recipe's sugar to brown sugar ratio. And how to get it into a brownie cake with chocolate fudge frosting!

Sawyer said...

god that looks so good...i might have to make some of these brownies soon....w/ walnuts! if you ever need an extra taster, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future =) ps: i like your random food facts above

Barefoot Plumies said...

heehee, thanks Sawyer! I didn't mention that I did put walnuts into half of the brownies. I think I'm the only person on earth that doesn't like nuts in my brownies.

I think you should be dubbed GP Lucky #7 on the panel!