So, the results are in. (For the introduction to this important experiment click here.) The data has been collated and we have a clear winner. I was planning on presenting the findings by writing a brief review of each recipe and announcing which category they had won. However, it turns out that one single recipe won in every single category. I did not see this coming. But it wouldn’t be fair to just tell you about that brownie, and I want to make some graphs. So, here we go:
Nigella (with Minstrels instead of nuts)
Last place overall
Winner: Most expensive brownie (£6.32 per batch)
As this is the first graph it is worth explaining that a high score in both ‘faff factor’ and ‘washing up’ is a good thing, as it is in the other categories. 10/10 in ‘faff factor’ would be a very very straight forward recipe, and 10/10 in ‘washing up’ would be a very small amount of washing up needed. I did it this way round so that a high score is always good.
What really let her down was the appearance, scoring a mere 3.2/ 10 average. It could be (rightly) argued that this was my fault, as I must have done something wrong to make the brownies turn out looking quite how they did. I don’t really understand as it turns out Nigella’s recipe is the closest to the recipe I have been using for years. I promise I didn’t intentionally sabotage it. Maybe it’s because I use value chocolate and stork whereas she uses butter and good quality chocolate. (!) I don’t know.
‘Very yummy BUT looks a mess.’
It tasted great, but was not pleasing to the eye, causing it to come in in last place over all. It did win something, but that was only the most expensive brownie award, which, to be honest, isn’t the most coveted. I’m convinced the fault is mine though, so please try out her recipe and let me know how it goes!
Winner: Highest Faff Factor; Most Washing Up
Runner Up: Flavour; Most Expensive Brownie (£6.18 per batch)
The friend who recommended this recipe to me described it as ‘more for the grown ups’. Interestingly it was my youngest tester that rated it the most highly (although he tells me he is a big fan of dark chocolate). The general consensus was that it was a tasty, well presented brownie, but that it was a little too rich. It also took the longest to prepare and produced by far the most washing up, and came in as the second most expensive brownie (£6.18 a batch). A small piece would be nice with ice cream or cream, and it was slightly more cake-like than brownie-like.
Joint First Place: Minimal Faff Factor; Minimal Washing Up
Ah, Mary, my hero on so many levels. (This is the legend Mary Berry I refer to, of course, and the aforementioned Nigel was Mr Slater, and Nigella was Ms Lawson, just for anyone who was unsure.) What a fantastically easy recipe – you literally just put all the ingredients in a bowl together, in any order, stir them all up and then put them in a baking tin and cook them in the oven. This also results in minimal washing up, which is obviously a good thing (but still a bowl and spatula to lick, of course). Many positive comments were recorded by my tasters, with particular reference made to the ‘silky smoothness’. It was also described, though, as ‘a bit average’ and ‘too much like a chocolate cake.’ So, a super easy and quick recipe, which keeps the crowds happy, but not as happy as others did…
Runner Up: Total Score
Joint Runner Up: Low Cost Brownie (£3.35 per batch)
I obviously had to include my ‘own’ brownie recipe in this experiment, although my tasters didn’t know that. You can find a link to the recipe here. This has been my go-to fail-safe brownie recipe for years and years, and I was pleased to see it scored higher than I initially thought. It is low cost due to the fact I use value everything in the baking. The recipe includes large chunks of white chocolate, which normally go down a treat but this time resulted in a number of negative comments, particularly about them having an odd taste and texture. I can’t help wonder if maybe the chocolate was a bit old….I had found it in the back of the cupboard – sorry if that was the case! These are also a particularly gooey brownie which produced a mixed response. Here are some of the comments written down for this batch:
‘Oh my word!’
‘Doesn’t taste so much of chocolate as of sugar.’
‘After [my wife and children], the next love of my life! Hope this is the winner!’
Runner Up: Appearance, Texture, Moreishness
Joint Runner Up: Low Cost Brownie (£3.35 per batch)
You know it’s going to be a good recipe when, in the space of 2 minutes, 2 of your friends send you the same recipe. The first one says ‘this is Heidi’s recipe and it’s amazing’, and the second one is from Heidi saying ‘I have this saved on my computer as people ask for it so often’. And I can see why: super quick and easy to make and low cost too. Also, as an aside, it was the easiest to remove from the baking parchment after cooling too. I personally thought these brownies looked so neat they looked shop bought. They also tasted great (despite being beaten by Nigel to second place on the flavour factor): just the right consistency. A few chunks of white chocolate, or chocolate chips wouldn’t be amiss in these.
Heidi has given me permission to share the recipe (and at the same time told me that it wasn’t actually hers originally) and I really recommend you give it a go! Here it is:
Melt 500g dark chocolate with 200g butter
Stir in 300g caster sugar, one tea spoon vanilla essence, 4 beaten eggs
Sift in 250g plain flour
Put in greased baking tray for 25 mins at 175 degrees (gas mark 4).
Winner: Appearance, Texture, Flavour, Moreishness, Low Cost Brownie (£3.30 a batch); Total Score
Joint Winner: Low Faff; Low Washing Up
My friend Ros is one of those people who has many talents and much going for her. It seems that the same could be said of her brownie recipe. It only went and won every single category! It involved a different technique to other brownie recipes I have used and I was initially unsure how they would turn out. But apparently melting the cocoa powder with the butter and sugar, and then adding chunks of chocolate is a winner! The recipe gave the option of adding white or dark chocolate (in addition to the milk chocolate) – I went for dark, but I think next time I will try white.
Ros has also kindly agreed to let me share her recipe (which, it turns out, wasn’t hers in the first place either!). You must try it! It is so easy and so tasty (and hooray it’s cheap to make too!) Here it is (in her own words*):
8oz butter (not marg!); 7oz soft brown sugar; 1oz cocoa; 2 eggs; 1tsp baking powder; 3oz plain flour; 200g milk choc; 200g white or dark choc; 1tsp vanilla extract.
Oven at 180C or equivalent. 9″ square tin, greased and lined.
Melt butter/sugar/cocoa in microwave or saucepan. Break choc into chunks – it can be v. cheap basic choc, not necessarily high quality expensive stuff. Stir all the ingredients together and pour into tin. Bake for about 20 mins – should still be a bit wobbly in the middle. Cool and cut into squares. YUM.
* you can find more of Ros’ own words here: http://theoldshed.me/
So, there we have it. Thanks to all who contributed recipes and willingly sampled the brownies. Watch this space for further Important Experiments. But to finish off, here is a final graph so you can see all the results in one place: