…because some thoughts are worth remembering
My hubby likes brownies. He isn’t much of a cook but he wanted to learn how to bake so he can create all these sweet recipes he sees. He read a New York Times article a while back on how brownies were getting reinvented in France. Next to the article were 3 brownie recipes: different ratios of eggs to flour, techniques, and even size.
He wanted to create all 3 recipes side by side, so he can taste test. He realized Thanksgiving Day gathering we were invited to was the best venue for it. Luckily, one of the recipes (Supernatural Brownies) specifically stated how the flavors improved overnight, so he could make that particular recipe the night before. He brought all three brownie batches, labeled them, A, B and C, with an accompanying spreadsheet to tally up people’s scores. They all scored high (who doesn’t like homemade brownies?) with a slight lead for the recipe (New Classic Brownies) which called for shocking the bottom of the pan in ice water. Close second was a recipe was called French Chocolate Brownies.
I personally liked the New Classic Brownies the best. The ice bath makes the inside of the brownie to be fudge-y. But it can be a big hassle if you don’t have ice handy. We tried to recreate the texture by making the Supernatural Brownies recipe at a slightly lower temperature with reasonable success (though the hack is better used for the French Chocolate Brownies, because the batch is a smaller size and you can control the consistency better). For all brownies in general, checking the done-ness a bit earlier than what the recipe calls for is crucial. Of course, if you find the brownies to be over done, there is always the “slice them thinner and stick some ice cream or whipped cream in between” trick. While nuts are optional in most recipes, they really work well in fudge texture brownies, so I wouldn’t skip them unless you are allergic to nuts.
We have since made these brownies several times. First, because the pastry chef realized that one of the four eggs that was supposed to go into the New Classic Brownies had rolled behind some spice bottles after he had finished baking it (it still tasted great!), so he wanted a rematch. The New Classic isn’t the recipe we most often make, however, because we tend to make these for parties and events, and the Supernatural Brownies can be prepped the night before and has the highest yield (13-by-9 inch baking pan, which is convenient for storing and carrying, if you have one of those pans that have a plastic lid with a handle).
After living in Denmark for 2 years and having visited many cafes in Europe, I can see that the fad that started in 2007 in France spread the gospel of “les brownies” even to the Scandinavian countries. The best ones, I believe, are still made in your own home, with the recipe you love. (A not-so-photogenic photo of the Supernatural Brownies in my previous blog post, posing next to the sweet pepper chickpea curry in ready-to-go container).
Photo: Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, beautiful in its brownie colored walls.