Brownies’ Honour

I am on a Quest. A Mission. A Journey of Great Importance. A Voyage of Discovery. Call it what you will, I am trying to find the best brownie recipe out there. The brownie recipe to end all brownie recipes. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

You are probably reading this and thinking ‘let me save you the hassle. I’ve got the best brownie recipe. I’ve been using it for years. It’s been passed down my family for generations. In fact, my family invented chocolate brownies.’ In which case, please send it my way. But the thing about brownie recipes is that almost everyone has one which they could (more or less) say that about. I think this is possibly more true for brownies than any other baked good. Many of my friends have their own special brownie recipe, and some of them will take it to the grave with them, convinced that theirs is The Ultimate In Brownie Recipes. And, I confess, I am one of those people. I’ve been using the same recipe for about 12 years. It’s my go to recipe for the classic Hen Weekend Recipe Book and many people have requested to have it, after tasting the brownies. (Thankfully I’m not one of those ‘take it to my grave’ people. The recipe wasn’t even mine in the first place).

But I decided that with so many people claiming that their brownie recipe is The Best, it was only right to do some investigating (for the common good) and try to find out once and for all what goes in to The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie. So, to Facebook I went and asked the question – does anyone have an amazing brownie recipe that they would be willing to share with me? And the replies came flooding in. Interestingly, there was a lot of variety in the ingredients. My longer term plan is to try lots of them out (possibly have a whole weekend of Brownie Baking) with a taste testing at work on the Monday, with score cards etc. But first of all I made a slight detour…

I am now trying to find out if a healthier (and/ or special diet) brownie exists. One that tastes good. I know there are recipes out there, but what do they actually taste like? Amongst the suggestions from my friends, and those I found online, were brownies made from beetroot, dates, sweet potatoes and mayonnaise, to name a few.

So this weekend I made my first batch of egg-free-dairy-free-gluten-free-and-no-added-sugar brownies. The sugar came from dates and maple syrup. The ‘flour’ was brown rice flour and ground almonds. And the main ingredient (and presumably replacement for both butter and eggs) was sweet potato. There was also some cocoa.

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I gave them to my friends (/guinea pigs*) to try and the response was, well, mixed. We all concluded that they were not chocolate brownies. If you expected that when you bit in to them, you would be very disappointed. They weren’t sweet enough, and didn’t taste chocolatey enough. However, if you gave them another name and thought of them more as a healthy(ish) snack bar then they actually tasted pretty okay. They reminded me of nakd bars. They were quite soft and moist, not at all crumbly or gooey. In fact, the texture was almost like fudge. One friend even asked if they had been cooked at all. They had, 20 minutes in the oven at 160 degrees C. They were lighter in colour than my normal chocolate brownies. The flavours weren’t strong, but they were pleasant. (Although not everyone agreed on this – some people didn’t like them much at all). We then tried to come up with a name for them, so as not to mislead people into thinking they were about to bite in to a sweet chocolate brownie. Brownie surprise? Brownie disappointment? Sweet Potato Slice? Brown Slice? Bland Brown Bar? Blandies? In the end we just stuck with ‘healthy snack’.

So, the verdict: Nice, but not a chocolate brownie. Next I will try a recipe involving beetroot. And then soon I’ll get on to the proper stuff.

* to clarify: I am using my friends as guinea pigs in my baking experiments. I did not feed the brownies to my pet guinea pigs, whom I also refer to as my friends. I don’t have any pet guinea pigs, just for the record.

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