The Skeleton in My Cupboard–Brownies

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more perfect example of a love-hate relationship than the one I have with brownies.  What’s not to love, right?  They are fudgy, chewy, crispy, crunchy, chocolatey, gooey, and delicious.  They make me happy.  They’re perfect alone or with ice cream, any temperature, at any meal.  And usually *usually* one is enough.  Whether you prefer the middle or the corner, with nuts, with chips, or au natural, brownies are a winner.  Unless you’re me and you can’t figure out how to bake a good batch.  Then, they’re your nemesis.

I’ve tried SO MANY recipes, and they all promise to be foolproof, only adding to my shame when I screw them up.  Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is that the mix you can buy for $2.99 in a box at the grocery store tastes and looks better than my homebaked, expensive, high-end, chocolatey expression of love?  What’s a girl to do?  I turned to the internet and some trusted baking sites, some favorite cookbooks, and some less fancy chocolate.  I aimed for simplicity.

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Flour, sugar, chocolate, butter, eggs, vanilla, salt.

That’s it.  It should have been so easy, so fast, so delicious.  20 minutes at 400 (I even have an in-oven thermometer!), then into an ice bath to cool.  Granted, I was supposed to use an 8×8 metal pan, which I don’t own, so I used glass, then put the brownies (on foil) into a different container so as not to shatter my pan, but still.  The center was raw.  Not in that good, ooey-gooey way–in a gross, drippy, uncooked, raw way.  You guys, I *like* brownie batter.  And when I say I like batter, I mean there is no need to wash the bowl when I’m done with it.  (I’m sure J is cringing as he reads this, grateful that I don’t lick bowls in public and wishing that I didn’t admit to doing so in private all over the internet.)  I do not fear salmonella.  I had every reason (after my overbaked, dry mess last time*) to love these brownies, even if they were a little underdone.

*Below – the last, terrible batch

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I did not like them.  Once again, I went to the altar of internet searching and begged Google to help me.  Multiple baking chats reassured me that this was a common problem and said I could put those babies back in the oven to firm them up, just as long as I was careful not to overbake them.  15 more minutes (nearly double the original time) helped a little, but only a little.  They tasted better, but they didn’t look too pretty and they fell apart when cut.   As you can see in the photo above, my last batch looked lovely, but didn’t taste good at all.  (Seriously, we threw them away.  I NEVER waste chocolate.  This hurt.)

Just once I’d like to bake brownies that taste AND look nice (and wouldn’t be better off hidden under multiple scoops of ice cream!)

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So back to the drawing board I go.  Brown Eyed Baker’s Baked recipe, buh-bye.  Baking Bites Perfect Fudgy Brownies, ciao for now.  (I may return to you once I own a metal pan, and next time I’m mixing far less so as to keep that sugar crystallized to make a nice crust.)  I’m not sure where to go next, but I’m not giving up.  I have learned to make a buttery, flavorful pie crust.  I have mastered both chocolate and vanilla cakes, something many professional bakeries don’t get right.  I’ve got a repertoire of muffins, cookies, frostings, and specialty items.  Brownies, I’m coming for you.

The night wasn’t a total loss.  Boo made sure we were still smiling in spite of my brownie-tastrophe and J’s endless school work.

Unlike the cats in this video,

Boo entertained herself without harming anyone or damaging anything:

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Love.

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Gone to the hips…

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