Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Brownies

Dear readers: This story has a tragic beginning, but do not fear--it has a happy ending.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who diligently read the food section of the LA Times each Wednesday. Even though it was shamefully skimpy and often featured wine articles she didn't care about, she still looked forward to reading the stories, drooling over the recipes, and lusting over the gorgeous photos. One day she spied a recipe for "Midnight Chocolate Brownie Bites," dense and fudgy chocolate brownies flavored with orange. These sounded divine, so she clipped the recipe and vowed to make them soon.

A few weeks later she planned a picnic with friends. Aha, she thought, the perfect opportunity to make those delicious brownies. She made the recipe diligently, but about halfway through, she paused. The recipe called for chocolate and butter to be melted together, then sugar was added, then eggs, then dry ingredients. She thought this methodology was suspect, and that the sugar should be whisked with the eggs instead of being added separately. However, in the end she deferred to the recipe--after all, it was published! Surely it wouldn't be wrong.

How wrong it was. The brownies, although tasty, came out a crumbly, grainy mess. They resembled several inedible, unappetizing things.

One minor change in method resulted in majorly disappointing brownies.

Not to be defeated, she made the brownies again the next week. This time, she whisked the sugar and eggs together before adding them to the chocolate. Success! The brownies were moist and fudgy, with a rich interior and a crisp top. The difference was obvious:

I would like to say the moral of this story is something along the lines of "believe in yourself" or "listen to your heart" or "every beast is just a handsome prince waiting to emerge, blah blah happily ever after," but the truth is, I just really hate to be defeated by recipes, especially when I know I'm right, and also...I like brownies.
Here is the modified Chocolate-Orange Brownie recipe. I recommend eating them warm, right out of the oven, with a tall glass of milk. You will NOT be disappointed.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice
Zest of one orange
2 eggs
1/4 cup best-quality cocoa
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Whisk together the eggs and the brown sugar in a separate bowl, then add the mixture to the chocolate. The mixture will be thickened at this point.

3. Stir in the vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice.

4. Sift together the cocoa, flour and salt, then stir the flour mixture into the batter until blended. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake for about 35 minutes, until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few moist crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool while still in the pan, on a wire rack.

**Be sure to check out Ruth's blog to see more bookmarked recipes.


  1. These brownies look so tasty!!!!! The second batch are VERY different and look much more appealing and tasty. Great work and great recipe for bookmarked recipes

  2. hehe..I can't get over the difference in the batches, too funny. That second batch look tasty! and mm Chocolate and orange..great combo!

  3. What a great blog and too bad about batch number one. Batch number two is redemption. Welcome to TWD also.

  4. Ooh looks good. I love the Wed food section too! The LA Times is skimpy on the food, but OC Register sometimes has some tasty finds!

  5. Welcome to TWD!

  6. Hi just found your blog through Ruth's round-up! What a great blog you have and I just love your second batch of brownies :)

  7. I found your blog from the TWD roundup. How could I ignore someone who names their blog using a quote from one of the funniest comedy routines of all time?

    2nd batch of brownies look amazing. Definitely listen to yourself next time ... and, if you're wrong, toss it and tell nobody!

  8. the brownies look gr8

  9. I love baking but am relatively new to the science of food and how and why things work (and don't work!) Can you explain why the method made such a difference?

  10. Amazing what a difference it made!