Does the world really need another brownie recipe? Do you and I really need another take on one of Boston’s* finest contributions to the culinary arts? Yet more words and ingredients leading us on a crumb trail to chocolate bliss?
You probably have a couple of brownie recipes that you switch between, depending on whether you want something quick (that’ll be a cocoa brownie), or something more luxe and time-consuming (anything involving multiple ingredient layers; see my friend Heather’s ‘infamous slutty brownie‘). Most cookbooks – even healthy ones – will have a brownie recipe. So, the answer to my question is probably ‘no’. But, I think I might have a slightly different take with this rather melt-in the-mouth version. And it is incredibly simple, too.
As usual, I did a little experimenting first. I am not a gluten-avoiding cook particularly, but I do like to dabble in the slightly mysterious – to me – world of gluten-free baking. I think that most of us could do with having less wheat in our diet, but without saying ‘no’ to things that give pleasure, like cakes, brownies and bread. Speaking of bread, my g-f breads are a bit of a disaster (they will forever remain unpublished), but I am having increasing success with the temperamental art of the wheat-free bake. Especially with brown rice flour.
My first batch of gluten-free brownies went well – nicely risen, slight crackle on the outside, sigh-ingly soft on the inside. This respectable pan of brownies – which lasted all of one day in our house – gave me the confidence to make it for others. However, with ego riding high, my second batch was done in a hurry while making four other things for my nutrition classes. In my haste, and with the kitchen teetering with barely balanced pans and trays, I left out the almond meal.
Actually this was not the disaster that I thought it might be, although when I peeped in on its baking I was quite alarmed with the bubbling. Brownies do not bubble when they bake. Cheesey gratins under a grill, yes. Brownies, no. I quickly surmised that I had left out the meal. With a bit of muttering and grumbling I carried on, expecting to be throwing the by-now volcanic mess out. But when it cooled and I gave it a nibble, it was actually very nice. Not pretty, a bit pock-marked and rutted from the damned bubbling, but gorgeous flavour and soft texture. I rustled up another, prettier, batch and all was fine. I stashed the duff one in the freezer, and we have since had a few slices. I even had one with a friend who seemed to genuinely like it (thanks for being my guinea pig, Lynn). So, if you are prone to ineffective multi-tasking like I am, and you accidentally leave out the almond meal – which is there to provide some structure-aiding protein – it is not a complete disaster.
So, probably the answer is still no: we don’t need another brownie recipe. But after all that palaver I am darn well going to give you another one anyway! Hope you like it, despite it’s difficult history.
*The history of the brownie is disputed by some. It may even be a Yankee tweak of the Scottish ‘broonie’, which is made with oats and no chocolate (more of a blondie then), or even the Scottish chocolate scone. Both Scottish recipes were published before Fannie Merritt Farmer’s Boston brownie, from her 1906 cookbook, Boston Cooking School Cook Book. I like to think the first brownie was a chocolate cake gone wrong – but oh so right.
Have you had any recent culinary disasters that you would like to confess? Did you redeem it, or did it get shoved in the bin before anyone could see (plenty of mine have been the latter)? And, can there ever be too many brownie recipes?