Tuesday, December 20, 2011

in pursuit of the perfect brownie

I know you're not expecting this, but OMGMyHomeSmellsSoGood!

'Twas the week before Christmas
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring
'cause Angst killed the mouse

I suppose I could probably rewrite the poem to be clever, but why mess with something that time-honored. Besides, I've got brownies to wax poetic about.

Thanks to Isa and Terry, I've got vegan cupcakes and vegan cookies down, but brownies continue to be that impossible-to-replicate baked item.  I have a few recipes and I've gotten some decent feedback on them, but to me, they've fallen short of "the real deal;" dense, fudgy brownies with the crinkly top.  When I stumbled on this new post from a fellow Prodigal Blogger, I decided this recipe would answer all my prayers - after all the post's title is "The Best Vegan Brownie You Will Ever Eat."

I hope that's not true.

To be fair, it is the best vegan brownie I've eaten so far - so in a way it is true.  However delightful it made my kitchen (and therefore, entire apartment, possibly the better part of the building) smell, and no matter how crinkly the top was, and regardless of the fact that this is the first vegan brownie I've had that's resulted in me chugging soymilk to settle the sweetness, it's still not all that I wanted it to be.

It's very chocolatey.  It's very sweet.  It's the closest I've been to the moist, dense, fudgy brownies I remember from the not-too-distant past, but it fell just a little short.  My main grudge against vegan brownies is that they crumble.  Brownies are not meant to crumble - we'll leave that to shortbread and biscotti.  Brownies hold together by the sheer weight of their fudginess.  You could, conceivably, eat a brownie without a plate.

When I was mixing the wet and dry ingredients together, I thought it would be fun (and a little extra decadent) to include a handful of peanut butter chips (and it was).  As I was "pouring" the batter into the prepared pan, I found that I had to "spread" it to the corners - not a quality I usually look for in brownie batter, but the recipe did state that the batter would be thick.  It certainly was.  I kind of think that if I hadn't pushed it into a perfect rectangle with my spatula, it would have been perfectly content to be a little oblong brownie.

That's another thing.  I don't know what's up with all these "brownie bites" you can buy in grocery stores, but brownies are square or rectangular.  They are not round.  When you pour brownie batter into a mini-muffin pan and bake it, what comes out of the oven are mini-muffins, not round brownies.  There is no such thing as a round brownie.  Are you listening, Superfresh?

Okay, back to tonight's baking adventures.

So, my intention was to make these incredibly dense and moist and fudgy brownies, spiked with little bits of peanut butter, and then carefully pack them between layers of wax paper and deliver them to colleagues tomorrow so they could ooh and aah and exclaim their surprise about how fudgy and perfect my vegan brownies were.  I'm not sure they'll make it in and it's not necessarily because Mister and I can't keep our hands off (though they really are very tasty).

My brownies are crumbly.

I feel like I should have known that when I was forcing the batter into the corners of the pan.  At least three times before I put them in the oven I thought, "maybe I should add a little more liquid?"  Because the flavor is so good, I may make a second attempt and follow my heart on that, but it's too late tonight.  No brownies for you, faithful and persevering colleagues, or at least not tomorrow.  Tomorrow night will find me in the kitchen again "after hours," either perfecting this recipe or making cookies.  I guess you'll have to stay tuned to find out...


  1. I love the Ooey Gooey Brownies from Vegan Diner. They have a ganache topping, rather than the crackly top, but they are yummy. I've also heard good things about these, but haven't tried them yet: http://wingitvegan.blogspot.com/2010/03/eureka-brownies.html.

    And I'm with you on the round brownies. Heresy.

  2. thanks for your support, Erin (and the other recipe - I will absolutely check that out!) I'm glad I'm not the only one with leeriness toward "round brownies."