Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brownies, How I Loathe Thee...

I hate brownies. Plain and simple.  It's not that I hate to eat brownies.  It's not that I hate to look at brownies.  I hate to make brownies, and I hate it with all my heart.

Whether you're employing the double-boiler, made-from-scratch method or the box-of-Ghirardelli-brownie-mix-from-Costco method, initially, you might think that making brownies is pretty easy.  That's all part of their evil little chocolatey plan, though, and this is where the weaker, less-experienced bakers are deceived.  You stir up the batter (Careful, don't mix it too much!  Brownies hate to be over mixed!), grease the pan, and pour in the thick gooey mass.  You put it into a perfectly preheated oven, set the timer a few minutes early (just in case!) and then sit back and watch "Elf" on TV while you wait for them to bake.  Fifty minutes or so later the timer will ding, you'll get up, you'll open the oven, and you'll see something like this:

Every single other baked good that I make has some sort of test to see if it's ready: touch the top, it'll bounce back; stick a toothpick in the center, it should come out clean; the sides should pull away; the top should be golden brown... you know the deal.

Brownies, though, are like pears: there is a very brief, 5-second window during which they are absolutely perfect and if you fail to get to them during that window, they are completely and utterly inedible.  With pears, they're either horrifically unripened or disgustingly mushy and bruised.  With brownies, if you do not pull them out of the oven at the exact right time, they are either sticky chocolate soup or burnt charcoal briquettes with little chocolate chip nuggets mini pockets of hardened ash.

From my extensive brownie experience, though (I've made 6 batches so far tonight), I have come up with a  fail-proof method of figuring out whether or not your brownies are ready: if they've been in the oven for the allotted amount of time and you do not yet smell the acrid scent of burning chocolate, they're ready and by all that is good and holy TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN RIGHT NOW.  Do not attempt the toothpick test.  Do not think, "Oh, maybe just a couple more minutes, they look a bit gooey."  Sweet heavens, woman, get your oven mitts on and pull that pan out of the oven this minute!!

Once you've pulled them out of the oven, set them on a cooling rack.  Don't look at them, don't speak badly about their mother, don't make sudden movements anywhere within a 10-foot radius of them, and for gosh sakes do NOT think to yourself: "Hmm, they look a bit squishy, maybe I'll just stick them back in for a couple minutes."

As for me, I've cut up all my brownies, I've cut off all the burnt bits I possibly could (I felt sort of like a butcher trimming off excess meat to save just the fillet), and I've made my peace with the fact that brownies are the most evil of all baked goods to make.  There is no hope for me, but perhaps with this warning other people can avoid some of the heartbreak and anguish I've had to endure.

On a final note, allow me to present you with a bit of headache-inducing trivia brought forth by my ever-knowledgeable young cousin:  The following is a grammatically correct sentence in the English language:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it.


  1. Lol I love brownies, hate making them I agree there is that sweet spot ( pun intended) where they are the perfect combination of crust and moist and chewy.. and it is a smalll tiny window of time lol...

  2. I totally agree with you - I always over bake mine - they are impossible!!

  3. First I need to tell you that I am watching Elf with my kids while reading your post...

    Yes, to make perfect brownies it's an art and I will admit that I do not succeed very often.That's why I try to mask it with many variations and flavors I can blame it on....shhh, don't tell my family

  4. I think the issue is your discerning taste buds. If you rarely get to eat something as delectible as brownies (or cupcakes for that matter) any old shoe leathery batch will do. I recommend lowering your standards based on the following criteria:

    Did you chip a tooth eating it? No? PERFECTION!

    Did you vomit back in your mouth after ingesting? No? SCRUMPTIOUS!

    Did removal of the brownies require a jackhammer and/or saw of some kind? No? DELICIOUS!


    P.S. Should you feel the need, you may send all rejected brownie batches to my official sampling lab (aka, my mouth) for testing and diagnosis. Let me know if you need the address. ;)

  5. I sure do love to eat a brownie though! I was just thinking "I don't remember brownies being that hard to make." Then I remembered that I haven't made brownies in oh, about, 10 years? So of course I have a rosy view of the matter. That's what always gets me - when I see an old recipe that was supposed to be destroyed because "not worth the effort" and I go and try to make it again!

  6. That is all fine and dandy but I only want pieces with crust. Crust only! So there. Now you need one of those pans with extra crust. Oh!! I guess I need one of those pans... Well, maybe not. I have not actually baked a brownie in maybe 5 years. They are just too evil to keep in the kitchen...

  7. My brownies never come out. Of course I don't think it's the brownies fault. :-)
    Not much of a cook, but I'm glad other people are.

  8. Wow! That is a lot of Hating going on in the kitchen for the poor brownies. They do have a "perfectionist" personality, but I eat them anyway. Hey, I believe they should not go to waste. Overdone, underdone, whatever! It just does not matter to me if it is just me and my family. Please, my kids better just step back when there are brownies on the island...Momma is first in line.

  9. I have the same problem! I find that brownies from the box come out better than the ones from scratch for some weird reason. lol... maybe i'm just cursed in the brownie department ;) how was your thanksgiving dot? I happend to be in your part of town again this past weekend!

  10. i too find brownies to be the stepchild of all sweet chocolate-y goodness. they're really not that good. i know you don't mind eating them, but i actually do. i only do it when they make me feel really guilty for NOT eating them. thanks for visiting over at the crib!

    just fyi you need to get rid of your word verification it deters comments :)

  11. Hey good job on being the first Sits comment tonight! Were you all excited or what?! LOL

  12. I am so sorry about your brownies! Let me tellyou the nifty- never fail trick! Add an extra egg (Thanks Giada). They're done when they lightly spring away from the side of the pan. We are Ghiradelli fans - we add extra chocolate chips and that extra egg. All my sons start making these in the 3rd grade. This is a full-proof method (or in my case 4 out of 5 succes rate with my sons cooking).

    Best of luck! Let me know how it turns out if you try it. Oh, and Congrats for being #1 in the SITSahood today!

  13. I don't really like brownies!! Stopping by to say hi!

  14. Wowza...I don't know how to process your loathing for brownies. I think YOU need the perfect brownie pan set much more than I do! :)

    But I do agree, brownies are tricky. I tend to bake them 4 minutes longer than the package says and then call it good. Because there's nothing wrong with a gooey slightly undercooked brownie, but a hard one can ruin your month! :)

    Stick with cookies. And maybe try the premade brownies.

  15. i like a chewy gooey underbaking is what I call just perfect...i just pop the brownies in the freezer and then I can't really tell that they can hardly keep their shape!

  16. I LOVE brownies!! They are my quick, qo-to desert when I am craving chocolate...which is more often then I will admit.

    Your post is hilarious, and I love the little pictures you link to!

    From SITS!

  17. did ya stay up all night just to be the number ONE???

    How DID you do it?!! lol

    You must not be making brownies often enough.

    You must just need to practice more!!

  18. I'll go with the extra egg Lady - it works everytime. But you get more "cake-like" brownies if you don't mind. Happy baking & great blog, SITSta!

  19. Stopping by from SITS...your comment on someone else's blog led me here...something about blind nuns, Bangladesh, butterflies and the price of hats! HILARIOUS.

    To me, ALMOST any brownie is a good brownie!

  20. WOW,so you like really hate baking brownies. Why doesn't the toothpick test work for you? Or why don't you do that test? I'm actually kinda afraid to ask. :)