Back in 1999 I tried a bunch of brownie recipes on my teenagers and their friends. Over 6 months the winning brownie came out of a box. And it did not matter much which brand.
Well, I want to change that outcome so I am trying out brownie recipes on my coworkers. The biggest drawback is that brownies generally get rave reviews just for showing up and just for being chocolate.
For a two week trial so far, here is what I have done. I chose a Quick & Easy Fudge Brownies recipe from the back of a King Arthur flour bag. I clipped this and stuck it on my kitchen counter. I am not sure if I made this one before or a different KAF recipe. I have written about brownies twice before, here and here. But my endeavor here is to find a go-to recipe that gets high ratings from a variety of people. And because I am a social scientist I have a three point Likert scale for tasters to rate each brownie.
I virtually made the same recipe for both weeks. There are technical differences but I think this makes a big difference. Here is the basic recipe:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
KAF’s instructions are to put the ingredients in a large bowl in the order listed and beat until the mixture is smooth. Bake in a 913-inch pan for 25-30 minutes at 375 F.
Being the baker that I am I did not exactly follow the above, but almost. I accidentally used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa in the first batch. Also in the first batch, I used 4 egg whites (because I had these in need of use) and one whole egg. I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour both weeks. The second week I used regular cocoa powder and three whole eggs. I melted the butter in the bowl, sifted the dry ingredients together, then added all the ingredients and mixed until smooth.
I had my coworkers rate these on three aspects: appearance, texture, and taste. I am sure there is some skewing of the results based on the time between samples. But, too bad!
The first was the Special Dark cocoa brownies. The sample size was n=12. The second week sample size was n=8. And the winner is…
I think these results show that Special Dark Cocoa should not be used in brownies. It is most likely best suited for dark and rich chocolate cakes. The medical student at work with a discerning palette picked up on the difference in moistness between the two which is the result of the egg whites vs. whole eggs. There was another coworker who verbally gave me her results so the second week is really a sample of 9. Three people who compared the two weeks all said the second week was better.
So don’t mess with the cocoa or the eggs! Whole wheat pastry flour works just as well as the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. So we could say this is a healthy brownie, LOL! This is a simple enough recipe and makes a 9 x 13 pan so it could easily be a go-to recipe. Maybe I’ll try out recipes using baking chocolate next.