I made some brownies on Friday that tasted like a meth lab smells. Yeah. That bad.
Granted, I'd never attempted brownies "from scratch" before, but I'm not completely hopeless in the kitchen. Maybe I overheated the butter and chocolate mixture or the walnuts were rancid, or maybe even the metal pan and aluminum foil had some kind of reaction. Maybe my oven cooks with mustard gas. I know it wasn't the recipe I was using because David Leibovitz is a god among bakers, but something went wrong because those suckers were toxic. Even the dogs gave them a wide berth, and they eat underwear.Still, I refused to be defeated. I've had some really good brownies lately- just the right balance of bitter and sweet, fudgey and cakey- and I, never having made brownies that didn't come out of a box, feel seriously inferior. I (with the help of Smitten Kitchen) tried again.
This time, I opted for the double boiler method of melting the chocolate and butter rather doing it over direct heat to make sure I wasn't overcooking anything. I cracked each egg into a bowl first to make sure they were still fresh. I bought baker's chocolate bars in case the chips were the culprit, and used pecans instead of walnuts. I left out the foil lining the pan. I even doubled the recipe just so I could bake them in glass instead of metal. Most importantly, I tasted the batter at all the crucial points to make sure there was no chemical funny business; that's right, I was so dedicated to making an edible brownie that I stared salmonella right in its vomit-laden face.By the time the brownies hit the oven, I felt a glimmer of hope. I'd succeeded in making a better batter, at least, and they smelled great. The dogs wandered in, and camped out in front of the oven. Already, I was ahead of the game.
As it turns out, anticipation is the enemy of baking. Thirty minutes felt like thirty days. I fiddled on the internet until the oven timer went off. Finally! Done! Yesss!
Nope. Still gooey. Dammit.
Back in the warm oven it went for another ten minutes. A watched brownie never bakes. At least five of my hairs went gray while I waited.
Out of the oven again! Somewhat less gooey! Finally, I was going to get to taste the fruits of my labor... except they have to cool completely before cutting. F&#$. I thought about shoving my face into the pan. Instead, I shoved the pan into the freezer. Another thirty minutes of agony, and (even though they were still warm on the bottom) I was fork deep in delicious.
Final answer? Four out of five stars. Or forks. Whisks? Whatever. The texture was perfect- chewy, but neither cakey nor gooey. That's the good news. The bad news is that they were a bit too sweet and a bit less chocolatey than I wanted. Still, I think with a few more modifications (less sugar, added chocolate chunks) this will be my go-to brownie recipe.* Best of all? I'm a kitchen chemistry catastrophe no more.
*Author's note: The original brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen can be found here. I won't be republishing it because it isn't mine.