Brownies – Conquering my Fear!
I’m still hoping some bakers might join my little expedition into historical baking! Buy the book here!
My first journey into Cookies and More Cookies (here on out known as CMC) was my aforementioned nemesis, BROWNIES!
Why do I have such a difficult time with brownies? The only thing I can come up with is…well, they are BROWN! I always over-bake them. I’m afraid they are under cooked so I leave them in for another minute, then one more minute… then presto! They are crispy and taste terrible 🙁
As I am determined to overcome my fear, I will do my best to make some amazing brownies from some 80+ year-old recipes! Maybe not such a great idea, but here goes.
There are 5 brownie variations in this cookbook:
- Nonchocolate (Blondies)
There are no actual pictures in this book, only a few small illustrations of what some of the final products are supposed to look like. I found this to be really challenging as I had no idea what the final product would look like. When you think brownies, usually those Ghirardelli boxed ones that are really dark, really moist, and really tasty come to mind. I was kind of expecting something like that when I started which might have led to my disappointment in the end 🙁
The original plan was to cover all 5 recipes in 1 post, but that’s just not going to happen. It’s taking me a little longer to get them made and photographed than I had expected so I’m breaking it up into parts. It also just got really hot here in MN and just the thought of turning on the oven in this heat makes me break out into a sweat! I’ve been trying to get them done first thing in the morning but with 3 kids and none in school for summer that is challenging as well.
I’m getting there!
I can’t put the exact recipes up as I don’t have permission from the publisher, but the first recipe only calls for 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder! That’s it!
Another difficult thing about the older recipes is oven temperatures. This first recipe calls for a “slow oven temperature”. I had to google that one, I’ve never heard of that in my life!
It’s basically oven temperatures broken down into sections. For my baking needs I’ll mostly be using these two:
- Slow – 300-325 degrees
- Moderate – 325-350 degrees
The third crazy thing about these recipes the baking time, it’s so vague. The instructions say to bake for 20-30 minutes! 10 minutes may not seem like a lot of time in general, but in the baking world it’s the difference between “Ooo” and “Ewe”.
The Pan Plan
I bought some aluminum brownie pans from the dollar store to bake all these brownies and doubled them up to increase the strength. Doing dishes isn’t my favorite thing and it’s a lot easier to send them away in a disposable pan. I wanted to bake all the recipes in the same pan to keep it as uniform as possible, hoping against all hope to increase the positive outcome of my efforts. I’m not sure that helped :/
I’ve baked 3 of the recipe so far in these pans, the last two I might try a regular square pan and hope for better results.
Brownies Plain : Complete failure… I think.
I really have no idea what I did wrong on this one or if they are supposed to be like this. Directions read twice, my ingredients pre-measured, my oven preheated to the middle of “slow oven” temperature, and instructions followed to the T. .
As I put the ingredients together, it seemed like a sugar cake instead of brownies! There is twice as much sugar as flour, and the 2 eggs made it seem really soupy for a brownie batter. I did leave the nuts out of the recipe but that was my only alteration.
Here is the batter in all it’s glory…
After I put them in the oven, they crusted over. I thought things were going fine until I checked them at 20 minutes. I always check my baked goods at the first time listed so they don’t over-bake. They looked very wet still, so I put them on for another 5 minutes.
I pulled them out after the additional 5 minutes and attempted to cut them, but it was still soup in the middle. The top had formed a sugar crust and the middle just oozed after the knife went through it. I cranked up the oven temp to 325 and put them back in for another 15-20 minutes.
When I pulled them out, they weren’t oozy, but they weren’t what I would consider brownies either!
The crust on the top pulls away from the rest of the bake, and the middle has the texture and consistency of a pecan pie. Thinking of what I wanted it to be, and seeing what it is makes this the strangest thing that’s ever come out of my oven – for real.
The description for these brownies is “rich, but delicious and may be served with anything not too rich in itself.” I have no idea what that is supposed to mean after making this recipe. It also said to cut while they were still warm and remove them from the pan. As you can see in the next picture, that wasn’t happening.
While bemoaning the fact that I had failed yet again at brownies, my husband downed the entire pan! He loved them and thought they were amazing, but he loves pecan pie (and I don’t) so it made sense as to why he would love them.
I was not impressed at all.
Here they are as I attempted to plate them for a beautiful photograph…
I laugh when I see this picture, It just looks horrible! Nothing like what I had envisioned for this post.
Next on the list is Brownies Chewy. As these first brownies were pretty chewy after they cooled, I was quite interested in seeing how Brownies Chewy presented themselves.
In spite of the difficulties of these recipes, I’m still loving this baking adventure. Sometimes we get comfortable in our own abilities and leave out occasional challenges. It’s things like this that help me improve and remind me I’m not Super Baker 🙂
Please join me! I would love to see how someone else interprets and bakes these brownie recipes. Maybe I missed something?
Thanks for reading!