Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Battle of the Brownies

You should know that I have a thing about alliteration.  

I love, love, double love it!

I kind of want to call this post "Battle of the Brownies by Becky", but that's kind of redundant because I write the blog.  It's a given that it's "by Becky."

But, the one who suggested calling this Battle of the Brownies was Bri!  More alliteration!

I guess I could call this post "Battle of the Brownies, blogged by Becky (named by Bri)" and it would make my inner nerd even more incredibly excited!

Anyway.  Brownies.

I recently read about The Perfect Chocolate Brownies.  America's Test Kitchen said they were perfect.  If you know anything about America's Test Kitchen, you know they do not mess around.  If they say it's good, you can be confident it's good.

If they say something is perfect, well then, I should probably try it!

But here's the thing!  I already have a recipe that I love!  My mom made it all the time, and I even have the recipe memorized.  I've actually never used a boxed brownie mix (shocking, I know), because my recipe is fast, delicious, and easy.  I've never felt the need to even try another recipe.

Until now.

So, I decided to have a bake off and do a taste test to see which recipe really is the best!

I considered a lot of things about the recipes: taste, texture, cost, time, dishes dirtied, and how the brownies "age".  Do they get crumbly after a day or does the flavor deepen?

You know, the usual :)

For starters, we have Brownie A, which is the recipe I grew up with and have memorized.  

It is much, much less expensive.

Here's the receipt for the chocolate:


The chocolate costs $2.48 per box, and you only need half of the box.  So the chocolate per batch is $1.24.

As opposed to Brownie B, where the chocolate alone is $5.34, and I didn't even get the really good chocolate (Ghiradelli).  Not to mention you need some dutch cocoa which is kind of a specialty ingredient.  I have this on hand because I'm weird, and I use it when I make chocolate ice cream.

Both recipes use butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla.

Please keep in mind that I made Brownie A with some helpers.


It's always nice to have some help, but it can take a little longer when they ask you to do things like sending Daddy a message.


They also taste tested the batter, which we all know is a very necessary part of recipe development. 

Here's a look at Brownie A:


It rarely takes me almost 14 minutes to make these...I would guess usually around 8 minutes.  I feel like having all of the help extended the prep time, but enhanced the all around experience.

And, yes, I am not only an alliteration nerd, but a timer nerd, as well.

Here is the recipe for Brownie A, a.k.a. One Bowl Brownies.  I got the recipe from the inside of the orange box (you find it by the chocolate chips in the grocery store).

4 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I literally never add nuts...while I like them, they are controversial in a baked good)

In a microwaveable bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter...about 2 minutes, or until the butter is melted.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Add 2 cups of sugar.  Stir until incorporated.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Add flour.  Stir until combined.

Spread into a well greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out with fudgy crumbs.  Do not overbake.  I bake it for 33 minutes in my oven.

Easy.  Peasy.  You use 1 bowl, 1 measuring cup, 1 measuring spoon.  Although, I usually just eyeball the vanilla amount, because I'm cool like that.

My assistants were napping when I made Brownie B.


You can see that even without helpers, it took longer.  I did have to use 2 bowls and 2 measuring cups.  Plus a whisk.

You feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of a whisk.  I know I do ;)

You can find the recipe here.

Here's a look at the completed brownies side by side.


Next, I cut bite sized pieces of each brownie and separated them into bowls.


From the side view, you can see that Brownie A is a little thinner than Brownie B.


Plus, Brownie B is much better looking than Brownie A.  B is richer looking, taller, and darker.

I had Aaron give me the taste test with my eyes closed, because I could easily tell which brownie was which by looking at it.

This is a rare and special talent.

I didn't want to be biased.  This is serious, scientific business.

The girls got in on the taste test, too!

Plus, Leah and Maggie colored the letters for me.  Maggie colored the A and Leah colored the B.

Maggie liked B better.


You'll notice, due to the labeling in the upper right of the sign, that Leah colored it, she is 7, and it is 2013.  In case there were any questions.

Leah liked A.


She would like to point out that she did NOT color the A, she just likes Brownie A better.  I told her there was no real risk of anyone thinking she colored A, what with the labeling on the B and all, but she was still wanted me to point it out.  So I did :)

Gracie liked B.


Regardless of what Gracie's choice was, I would take it with a boulder of salt.

Especially considering the next day she was insisting that she have Brownie H.  

Aaron liked A.


And I liked A, too!


I felt that the texture was chewier and the chocolate flavor was just the tiniest bit better.  It was incredibly close.  I actually felt that both could maybe use a little bit of salt.

I even had our small group do the taste test!

Beth liked A and Russ liked B.


Russ said it was almost too close to call, and that they were both wonderful, but he gave the edge to B.  Beth liked the richness of A better.

When I mentioned that the chocolate for B was 4 times as expensive as A, they both said to go with A.

McKenzie and Jake had conflicting opinions as well.


And, Corey went with A, too!


I made these on a Friday and obviously liked A better on Friday.  I still liked A better on Saturday but by a smaller margin.  But, I swung to B on Sunday as the flavor seemed to improve and the texture of A regressed, while B's texture was better.

The verdict?  I'm sticking with Brownie A.  Fewer dishes, simpler process, cheaper chocolate, and it's a family favorite.

Plus, I feel awesome having a recipe memorized!

oooooo...awesome, A, and alliteration!  And Aaron!!!

How could I not pick A ;)

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