For the past month I have been on a quest to develop a recipe for the perfect brownie. Trouble is, there already is a perfect brownie — it’s out of a box. Yep, confession time. I love boxed brownies. My grandmother made them; my mother made them; and I have been making them since I was 11 years old. Up until this year, this month in fact, I had never tried making brownies from scratch. I’d had homemade brownies at picnics, parties, and a few friends houses, and although very good, they weren’t what I was used to. They were not boxed brownies.
I guess I was somewhat of a brownie snob in expecting a homemade version to be as moist, chewy, chocolatey and irresistible as what I’d been brought up on and come to love. And being the closed-minded person I am when it comes to trying new foods, it was only natural in my quest for the perfect brownie mix that I would do my best to imitate what I was used to.
There are so many different recipes for brownies on the internet and deciding where to begin was a challenge in itself. After hours upon hours of reading recipes, deciphering the differences between cake-like, fudgey, and chewy brownies, and comparing everything I’d learned to recipes I’d printed off through the years or collected from friends and neighbors, I began testing recipes.
Every week for the past month I have tried a different recipe. Actually what I’ve been doing is closing in on the perfect brownie. With each test, I tweaked the basic recipe I started with, adjusting proportions, changing ingredients, and inching bit by bit closer to my goal.
Tonight I made my fourth batch of brownies and think it’s almost there. It is moist, chewy, chocolatey, homemade (not boxed), and the dry ingredients will fit in a quart mason jar for easy storage in the pantry. One goal of this endeavor has been that the final product had to be as easy and convenient as pulling out a box of brownies, adding eggs, oil, and water, and baking. I didn’t want making homemade brownies to be something I had to schedule into my day. Being able to whip up a batch of brownies in a matter of minutes, during a commercial break or five minutes before my guests arrived, was essential. Otherwise making brownies would become something I did only when I had time (which let’s be honest is hard to come by) or on special occasions.
Here are a few facts I picked up about making brownies/baking along the way:
- Substituting some brown sugar for a portion of the granulated sugar in a recipe will provide more moisture to the final product because of the molasses content.
- Molasses is acidic and as such will cause baking soda to react in a recipe. Therefore switching out the baking powder for baking soda in brownie recipes is okay as long as you use some brown sugar.
- Adding a little extra flour makes for chewier brownies.
- The addition of more oil to brownie batter will make them heavier, thus chewier and more fudge-like.
- It is better to under-bake your brownies slightly if you want a chewy version.
So here’s the recipe I ended up with tonight:
Chewy Fudge Brownies
- 1 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 1/3 Cups Flour
- 2/3 Cup Cocoa
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Powder (if you do not have vanilla powder, add 2 tsp. vanilla extract with other liquid ingredients when preparing brownies)
Layer these in a quart mason jar and seal until ready to use.
To prepare brownies:
Dump brownie mix into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Make a well in center of mix and add:
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 Cup Melted Butter
- 1/4 Cup Peanut or Vegetable Oil
- 1/4 Cup Water
Stir until combined. Pour prepared brownie mix into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes.
These brownies are nearly perfect — at least in my attempt to make a brownie that is quick, easy, convenient, chewy, and reminiscent of boxed brownies. In the end, when I compare my final recipe to the tons of recipes out there for homemade brownies, it is very similar. Many of the differences are based in the type of brownies I’m comparing my recipe to. Cake-like and fudgey brownies seem to be more popular on the recipe sites. Chewy versions were not as abundant.
I can’t say that I won’t continue to tweak my brownie recipe, because making brownies every week for the past month on the premise that I was in search of the perfect brownie was a great excuse to have brownies on the counter continually. I’m not sick of them yet, and neither is the family, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.