Brownies’ Honour

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

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).


Better Bites: Black Bean Brownies

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

My poor long suffering colleagues had another disrupted break time today as I walked around the office with my latest brownies in the line of experiments. ‘Eat this’; ‘Give me honest feedback’; ‘No, I won’t tell you what’s in it’; ‘Guess what’s in it’, ‘Stop having important conversations and pay me more attention!’

They are very obliging so I got lots of useful feedback. And lots of guesses as to the ingredients. Carrot. No. Beetroot. No. Courgette. No. Porridge oats. Yes, actually. Fig. No. Sweet Potato. Not this time. Potato. Again, been there, done that, no. In the end they got bored and we all got back to work.

Now the difference between these brownies and the last batch is that these ones actually tasted quite good. And they tasted of chocolate too. Result. They, like the last batch, were still gluten free, egg free, and added sugar free. They did have a bit of dairy in them, but that could easily be substituted. In case you haven’t read the title of this post (and who doesn’t love a bit of alliteration?) the ‘secret ingredient’ was black beans.

I’m not going to share the recipe just yet as I want to try out a few tweaks, but I will seek to do so soon. But I am very excited about my (late) discovery of black beans in baking produce. I feel like a whole world of baking opportunity and gluten free joy has opened up to me.

Watch out, colleagues, more black bean baked goods coming your way!

In Praise of the Full Fat Brownie

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

A few months ago I began a journey to find The Best Brownie Recipe, but I got a little side tracked. Side tracked by things like black beans and sweet potatoes. I was inundated with brownie recipes which were packed full of sweet sounding delights, lashings of butter, mountains of sugar, and more ‘best quality’ chocolate than you could ever dream of. But for some reason I decided to try out some of the ‘healthy’ or ‘free from’ alternatives. I’ll keep going on that detour, but this evening I returned to The True Path.

I was baking 4 batches of brownies for a wedding this weekend. Initially I thought this would be a great time to try out 4 different recipes. I even picked 4 from my friends and made a little hand drawn spreadsheet of the ingredients, detailing how much of each thing I would need for each recipe and then totalling it up at the end. But then I realised this was possibly not the time to undertake this experiment. For the experiment to be Truly Scientific I will need Score Cards, and I will need everyone to try every brownie. I’m not sure that it would be right to turn the wedding into a Highly Scientific Brownie Experiment. So, I put my spreadsheet to the side (it will be used later, don’t you worry) and stuck to my trustworthy recipe.

And, you know what, it was a bit of a relief to return to this old friend. A brownie recipe that contains chocolate. And sugar. And flour. And butter. And even eggs. And lots of all those things. (Except the flour – there’s not much flour). Maybe one day I’ll be a Healthy Brownie Convert, but for now I’ll just run further tomorrow*.

(*I will in actual fact not run tomorrow at all, I haven’t run for about 2 weeks. A girl has to prioritise and sometimes Baking wins. But it’s the thought that counts….)

Anyhow, here’s the recipe that I’ve been using for all these years:

200g butter (or marge, or stork, or value spread – it’s all the same if you ask me!)
200g dark chocolate (again, value is just fine!)
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
112g plain flour
200g white chocolate (value fine, again!) chopped into chunks
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp vanilla essence

Bake in:
Approx 12.5 x 8 inches baking tin lined with baking parchment

-Preheat oven to 170 degrees C and line tin with parchment
-Melt dark chocolate and butter together in microwave
-Beat eggs and sugar together until pale. Add the melted choc and mix well until blended
-Add flour, salt, white choc, vanilla essence and stir all together
-Pour into tin and bake for about 30 mins, poss a bit longer. Top will look cracked and you want it to be ever so slightly gooey still on the inside.

The Great Brownie Experiment – Introduction

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

I started trying to write this up in the style of a science experiment report but I got a bit confused by which bits should go in which section, and the fact I was meant to write in the third person etc. But don’t be fooled – just because this is not written up in Official Science Format, it is still Very Important. This is probably the most important experiment I have ever undertaken. Some would argue that it is the most important experiment ever undertaken, full stop. I think they are probably wrong, but we are all entitled to our opinions.

So, the aim of this Experiment was to find The Best Chocolate Brownie Recipe. An important and challenging task, but one which somebody must be willing to undertake. But where to begin? There are so many brownie recipes out there, and so many claiming to be The Best. Well, I started off by asking friends who were willing to share their ‘Best Ever’ brownie recipes with me to do so. I was inundated with recipes, as mentioned in previous posts. After a brief detour via some healthier and ‘free from’ brownies, I collated all the recipes I had received and picked out 6 with which to make a start. I tried to include recipes which included a range of ingredients and cooking techniques, but stuck to the basic ‘chocolate brownie’ theme. (I will do a later experiment on exciting additions and slants on chocolate brownies, but for this experiment the only additions consisted of chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and Minstrels.)


The Great Brownie Experiment – The Results

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

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:


The Return of the Sweet Potato ‘Brownies’

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series The great brownie experiment

Last year I began my Very Important Quest to find the best brownie recipe out there. This included a brief detour into the world of special diet brownies, the results of which were varied. My first attempt was a gluten free, dairy free, no added sugar, vegan ‘brownie’, made primarily of sweet potatoes and dates. Lionel wrote about our friends’ honest response here. It’s fair to say, they didn’t go down particularly well.

IMG_20160204_171750But I have a confession to make. I am guilty of having *slightly* adapted the original recipe – I didn’t use the specified type of dates, and I used cocoa powder instead of cacao powder (you swap a few letters round – how different can it be?!) So I decided it was only fair to have another go, this time following the recipe to the letter.