ATK Recipe #48 and 49: Bake Sale Brownies and Ultimate Brownies

I have this problem. Every Thursday I watch the latest episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts on the DVR and not only do I want something sweet to munch, but I get the urge to bake. And I don’t even really LIKE baking. (Ok, maybe it’s growing on me.) And since these are spontaneous urges, I have to look for something to bake that doesn’t require a huge outlay in ingredients or time. And twice in the last month, that’s been brownies.

First I tried the recipe for Bake-Sale Brownies. It’s designed to be about as easy as a box mix, and to produce a brownie that holds together enough to wrap up for a bake sale or to stick in a lunch bag. I actually decided to make a variation of this recipe called Frosted Brownies cause everything is better with frosting, right?

The only ingredient I needed to buy was unsweetened baking chocolate. Once I had that, the actual process was honestly as easy as a box mix. You melt butter and the chocolate in the microwave and then add it to sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl, stir in the flour, and pour into the pan. I was really amazed it was so simple. Why did we ever start buying mixes in the first place? About 25 minutes later, I had brownies. Next, the frosting. Again, it sounded remarkable easy. All I had to do was melt some chocolate chips with a touch of veggie oil in the microwave, and then spread onto the brownies.

Frosted Brownie

As luscious as that might look, I regretted adding the frosting. The process of making the frosting seemed too simple to be true, and it was. Instead of tasting like delicious chocolate frosting, it tasted exactly like chocolate chips. One note, boring, Hershey’s chocolate bar chocolate. The brownie itself had a good texture and, I think, flavor, but was totally overwhelmed by the melted chocolate chips on top. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still ate my share of brownies, but they would have been much better plain, or with some vanilla frosting.

A couple weeks later, I again craved sweet baked goods, and due to my earlier brownie binge, had the ingredients for the other ATK brownie recipe on hand. These were called Ultimate Fudgy Brownies, which, admit it, sound awesome. The difference between the two recipes is that in addition to the unsweetened chocolate, this one also uses semi- or bittersweet chocolate and Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Other than the amounts of chocolate ingredients, everything else is pretty much the same. The finished brownies had a nice wrinkly surface and a fudgy, squishy consistency. However they were a little dry and crumbly. How can they be squishy and crumbly? They just can. I assume they were slightly overcooked, but I used the shortest of the recommended time range. The flavor was good, but they were messy to eat due to crumb explosions. Really, I’ll probably use the Bake Sale Brownie recipe the next time I want brownies. It was slightly easier and I think the texture was better.

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