Friday, March 16, 2012

The Baked Brownie

Eat me.

This recipe has been floating around the internet for a couple of years now, enjoying the praise and preening.  Everywhere you look, blogs will tell you that this little brownie, from the Baked bakery cookbook, is the best brownie you'll ever have. There are a couple of brownies on my list to bake and finally, after moving in with someone who would make sure that I didn't eat the entire batch myself, I got around making this one.

Is it the best brownie I've ever eaten?

Yes. Probably. It's hard to say for sure without having a side-by-side taste test, but this brownie is very, very good. It's better than Martha's double chocolate brownies, which are fantastic. It's better than Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies, although those are delicious and will ever hold a place in my kitchen due to their simplicity of steps and ingredients. I could live the rest of my life with the Baked brownie as my go-to brownie. 

So, will it be the last brownie I ever make? No. This is third in a list of internet-famous brownies that I want to make. There's Thomas Keller's brownie from Ad Hoc, "Robert's Absolute Best Brownies" shared by David Lebovitz, the ambitiously named "Better than Brad Pitt Brownies" (though, because Brad doesn't actually turn my crank, I might have named them differently), and the ever-beautiful Tartine bakery's brownies. I have seen all of these referred to at one point as "The Best Brownie Ever!" Ahh internet, the home of exuberance. 

I was wondering last night whether all these brownies were really that different. Some of them call for nuts or other extras, but aside from that, how does the batter differ? So I made a table. Some of these recipes call for cocoa powder, and I used a semi-sweet chocolate substitution (3 parts cocoa, 3 parts sugar, 1 part butter) in order to simplify the comparison.

All of the recipes call for AP flour and either semi-sweet (60-75%) chocolate, Dutch process cocoa, or a some of each. Both the Baked and the Tartine brownies call for brown sugar, Baked and Ad Hoc call for espresso powder, Lebovitz and Medrich suggest nuts, and the Better-Than-Brad-Pitt brownie calls for both nuts and chocolate chips mixed in. The Better-Than-Brad-Pitt brownie is actually HUGE compared to the others--the absolute volume of the recipe is massive. Lebovitz's brownies seem like they'd be fairly thin. Martha's brownies are the only ones that call for baking powder, but not enough to fully leaven the flour.

The Baked brownie seems to be pretty average. None of its ingredients are in the extreme ranges. Is it perfectly balanced? Is that what makes it so fantastic? It's not too fudgey. . . It's JUST right. Maybe it is the goldilocks of brownies. Or, I suppose, the baby bear of brownies. The above chart has sky-rocketed the Ad Hoc brownie to the top of my list of brownies-to-try-next as the chocolate-y-est. It has also dropped the Brad Pitt brownie off the list, since I anticipate it being more cakey than the others which is not to my taste.

Even before I can get to the Ad Hoc brownie, though. . . the Baked bakery put out a second book with a new brownie recipe that involves folding home made caramel into the batter. How can I pass that up?

These brownies enjoyed the lifespan of a fruit fly.
The Baked Brownie Recipe
from the Baked cookbook

What you'll need:
315 g (11 oz) chocolate, semi- or bittersweet
227 g (1 cup) butter
1 tsp espresso powder 
156 g (1 1/4 cup) AP flour
10 g (2 tbsp) Dutch process (dark) cocoa
1 tsp salt
238 g (1 1/2 cup) sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9x13" baking pan.
In the top of a double boiler (I use a glass bowl on top of a saucepan), combine chocolate, butter and espresso powder and leave to melt over gentle heat.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt and set aside.
Once the chocolate and butter have melted, remove from heat and mix in the sugars. Whisk in the eggs, a couple at a time. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Pour the batter into your baking pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through. 
Let the brownies cool completely before removing them from the pan.

Nom nom nom nom nom


  1. Thanks for commenting on my blog and recommending me to this recipe--I'm definitely going to try it out the next time I get a chance, and I'll let you know! It was also really interesting reading this post and see the comparison between the popular brownies circulating around the web. Maybe the Baked version really is the goldilocks of brownies, haha.

    Anyway, really liked looking through your past posts as well... great blog! Look forward to keeping up with it in the future.