Non-Magic Brownies

If there’s one complaint I’ve had with “My Father’s Daughter” this whole time (haha: “one complaint”), it is that most of the recipes are too basic and intuitive to even fully count as recipes (or at least recipes from a $30 cookbook). Pizza = dough, tomato sauce, toppings. Salad = lettuce, dressing. Burgers = cheese, meat, bun. Simplicity, however, is not the issue with Fudgy Chocolate Brownies. Not at all. You see, these brownies are insane.

You start by mixing flour, “high-quality cocoa powder” (I bought an obscure brand in an old-timey container that looked like it belonged in a general store on the Oregon Trail, and now I have more cocoa powder than I’ll ever use in my lifetime), baking powder, and salt. Pretty basic beginning! Although this is already more work than just using a boxed mix, and I fail to see how it’s any healthier.

And this is where it gets insane. In a separate bowl, you mix vegetable oil, REAL Vermont maple syrup (over $10 for 8 ounces), agave nectar, soy milk, vanilla extract, and brewed coffee. Uhhhhhh. Wait, what? What is this nonsense recipe? Is this a recipe for brownies or the insane ramblings of an escaped mental patient? First of all, I never drink coffee, so I barely even know how to brew the stuff. I just kind of put some grounds in the thing, and then water in the other thing, and pressed a couple buttons, and brown water came out so I think I did it right? It smelled like coffee, at least. This recipe was already requiring far, far, FAR too much time, effort, and money for goddamned brownies.

Mixing some weird sludge!

So then you mix the wet stuff in with the dry stuff, “being careful not to overbeat (that’s how you end up with tough cake!).” Wait, are we making cake or brownies? TRICK QUESTION! The answer is we are actually making chocolate soup. The resultant “batter” was absurdly fluid, like, somehow more watery than water. Now, I know brownie batter, and this monstrosity is no brownie batter. So I threw the recipe out the window and just started dumping flour and cocoa powder in until it reached a reasonable consistency. Isn’t everyone always saying that baking is all about chemistry and measuring? Let’s just say I’m really glad Gwyneth went into acting instead of working in a lab. We’d all have smallpox.

Once the batter is brought up to a more-normal viscosity, you pour half the bowl into a greased-up brownie pan, and cover with scattered chocolate chips (Gwyneth insists on “high-quality” chips and ideally the grain-sweetened variety, whatever that means, but I went with Nestle because some demands are just too ridiculous to even consider). Pour the rest of the batter on top, and scatter with some more chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes. Or, rather, bake for 25 minutes, at which point it’s already too dry to fully enjoy.

These are brownies.

So, this recipe was clearly a disaster. Not only was it ridiculously over-complicated and far, far too expensive, but these actually tasted worse than your typical boxed variety of brownies. Granted, I may have some bias due to my absolute loathing of coffee (and I did think the coffee lent the brownies a distinctive dirt flavoring), but my roommate loves coffee and the brownies have not been touched by either of us in four days. If you’re feeding your kids chocolatey brownies, don’t try to trick yourself into making a “healthier” version like this. If you want healthy, give them some carrots. If you want brownies, just buy a box and save yourself the trouble. Good grief.



Filed under Desserts

18 responses to “Non-Magic Brownies

  1. Oldest and Wisest Sister

    Not that anyone really cares about healthy when they’re making brownies, but if for whatever reason you are, Trader Joe’s has boxed “guilt free” brownie mix and all you do is add one of their little containers of vanilla yogurt. Done. And they’re delicious and not at all dry. Plus, add Mom’s secret trick, and they’re even better. Trader Joe’s for the win!

  2. tishamay

    Hahaha zoobabe! This recipe sounded insanely complicated. I think “healthy brownies” is ridiculous. We all need a little unhealthy crap in our lives. Thanks for another great installment.

  3. I got smallpox from watching Bounce.

  4. Amanda

    I’ve heard of adding espresso/coffee to chocolate dishes to enhance the chocolate-ness, but maple syrup? Blech.

  5. chick110

    This is so funny if you read my facebook status today…

  6. honeybunny

    I think this is a sign you should move.


  7. Michele

    Hi Danny – de-lurking here to let you know that adding coffee to chocolate recipes is supposed to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. Also, the batter may have seemed thin but with all of the baking powder in it, they still would have risen and still stayed fudgy. You probably shouldn’t have added any more flour and cocoa powder – that’s probably why they turned out dry.

  8. Girl who used to live in Portland

    How can you not like coffee and live in Portland at the same time? That’s just wrong.

  9. Christine

    Vermont maple syrup & agave nectar… seriously? This woman is bonkers and clearly not living in the real world.

  10. Favorite aunt

    If there was one thing GIS cooked better then bbq chicken it was his brownies. And he didn’t like coffee either. Pot and both of your grandmothers well…..

  11. I think I need these brownies. Like now.

  12. phoebz4

    I’m sorry, you lost me at maple syrup. WTH? Even Martha Stewart’s brownie recipe wasn’t this complicated (though she had me melting chocolate in a bowl over a pot…) and they tasted good. With plain old sugar. And no coffee.

  13. I love this blog, but as much as I hate to do it, I have to defend Gwyneth here. Michele is right, if you “threw the recipe out the window and just started dumping flour and cocoa powder in until it reached a reasonable consistency,” you forfeit the right to blame the recipe. Baking is precise.

  14. marie

    hey, I don’t know if you read all your comments, but if so, here is a little news : Gwyneth is preparing a new cookbook of simple food….so you may have to cook this as well 😉

    • OH NOOOOOOOOOO. Thank you for ruining my day, Marie.

    • Lynn

      I’m sorry, I just love the contrast between Gwyneth’s quote “It’s easy food — the kind you make when you want to whip yourself into shape and be healthy.” and the one by the writer in the next paragraph… “It’s about death and its inevitability — just in case they think they’re going to live forever,” It’s almost as if he said it in response to overhearing Gwynnie.

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