Baking Adventures: Fudgy Brownies

I must’ve watched this video ten times, and I’m still afraid I’m going to muck it up. But here we are, and I’m attempting baking for the first time in a long while. I chose this recipe from the Cooking tree YouTube channel because it looked simple. Key word: looked. With four million subscribers and growing, they must be doing something right, even if many of us never even attempt the recipes ourselves.

Why else did I choose this? Because it has chocolate. Need I say more? Okay – chocolate and the potentially easy nature of this recipe. All my measurements come from some angel in the comment section who converted it from metric to imperial. God bless you, YouTube commenter! Here are the ingredients. I’ll muddle through with my description of the steps shown in the video linked to the left.

It’s funny – when I told my mom I was making this recipe for Father’s Day, she always harps on my choice of butter. When she questioned the “unsalted” nature of the butter, I flat out told her, “That’s what the recipe calls for. I may tweak what I’m cooking for lunch or dinner, but no way am I going to mess with baking.”

Other notes: it doesn’t look like the baker from Cooking tree packed the brown sugar, so it’ll take everything in me to not do so myself. The dark chocolate and butter are melted together over warm water, as is the eggs and brown sugar before they are whipped. I’m not brand loyal to any one company, so I chose to use a Ghirardelli 60% baking chocolate and Hershey’s 100% cocoa powder. This is the baking pan that I used, and the KitchenAid hand mixer. (Please note, I do not get any money if you so choose to purchase these items. I’m not savvy enough to do one of those “Amazon store” things anyway).

Let’s begin!

It’s storming outside; naturally, that’s when I decide to bake brownies. Being the last house on my line (the transformer is down the hill), that was most definitely a risky move. First thing I always do is set out all my ingredients before I begin baking (or cooking, for that matter). Instead of a video montage, here’s a mini photo gallery:

Imagine my surprise upon discovering I already had almost everything for this recipe – that absolutely never happens! I had the eggs, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and flour. I only needed to do a quick Target run (which turned into a two hour Target run) for the butter and Ghirardelli. I also picked up an extra baker’s chocolate bar, because for some reason American baking bars are only 113 grams. The recipe called for 200 grams. So I broke off a couple squares of the other and added it to the Ghirardelli.

I began by preparing my baking dish and hot water for the double boiler. I’ve only used the baking dish once before for a cold jello pretzel salad, so this will be the first time I’ll use it directly in the oven. It’s always fun testing a new recipe in a virgin baking dish, isn’t it? I buttered the bottom and sides per the video’s instructions and lined it with a single sheet of parchment paper. Moving to the double boiler: as I was using some old school Pyrex bowls – one used to belong to my grandmother – I didn’t want to risk breaking them by leaving the pot on the stove. So I brought the water to barely a boil and filled it the rest of the way with instant hot water from my tap.

Next I prepped my ingredients. My apologies for the poor photo quality – my phone is going on four years old. I make do! I don’t know why I thought dumping the cocoa powder into a tiny decorative bowl wouldn’t end in tragedy, but it very nearly did. At least the flour, cocoa powder and salt were going to be sifted together anyway. Whew! First travesty averted.

What I enjoyed about this recipe is that while there are a lot of moving parts, I knew how to do all of them. I know how my oven bakes. I knew how to make a double boiler and so on. In retrospect, the water for the double boiler could’ve been hotter, or I could’ve used a thinner bowl. Melting the chocolate and butter took a bit longer than I expected, and I don’t think I even dissolved the sugar into the eggs properly. Also, one of the eggs was a double-yolked egg. The second travesty.

I estimate it took a good twenty minutes for the chocolate and butter to melt together; the eggs and brown sugar never quite melded together. The sugar and egg mixture never fully fluffed up like it did in the video after whipping.

Now that could be due to several factors:
1. It was incredibly humid that day,
2. My ingredients weren’t the same as Cooking tree’s video, and
3. I didn’t have hot enough water to melt the sugar into the eggs.

There is a subtitle note which states that it was very important for No. 3 to happen. Moving on; things are not going well.

Finally added the chocolate to the egg mixture and sifted the dry into the batter. Travesty no. three: my batter wasn’t nearly as dark or thick as I was hoping it’d be. The type of chocolate I used contributed to it, but I poured it, nonetheless, into my prepped and waiting baking dish.

My apologies that the photos really aren’t the greatest quality (my phone is at least four years old and isn’t even part of the main Samsung line). Bake at 340 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes. The result? Cake. I basically made a bitter cake. Bitter because I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but I wanted to stick as close to the original recipe as I possibly could.

I tried. I really did. I’m also really glad I never claimed to be a proficient baker at the beginning of this journey. I still needed a dessert for Father’s Day, so instead of declaring this particular chocolate treat a complete disaster, we paired the, well, cake with french vanilla ice cream. That certainly helped cut down on the bitterness of the recipe. How do I know I failed completely? Neither parent wanted to take some home. *sigh*

So I’m not sure if I’m entirely qualified to share this recipe, considering my failure at recreating it. However, if the creator of the Cooking tree video sees this failed attempt, I hope they get at least a little laugh out of it.

The Recipe:

Imperial

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 c. brown sugar, not packed
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Metric

  • 200 g. dark chocolate
  • 120 g. unsalted butter
  • 120 g. egg
  • 150 g. brown sugar
  • 2 g. vanilla extract
  • 40 g. all purpose flour
  • 25 g. cocoa powder
  • 2 g. salt

The Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a 9 x 12 baking dish. Brush bottom and edges with unsalted butter. Line that with parchment paper for easy brownie removal.
  3. Cube the butter and chop the chocolate into slivers for easy melting.
  4. Measure out and sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk brown sugar and vanilla into eggs.
  6. Prepare a double boiler – make sure to use heat proof bowls.
  7. Melt chocolate and butter until smooth over double boiler; fully melt brown sugar and vanilla into the egg mixture.
  8. Use a hand mixer to beat the egg mixture until it’s turned a milky white and somewhat holds its shape.
  9. Mix chocolate into egg mixture and pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  10. Brownies are ready when top is crackled and insides are fudgy.
  11. Let cool before removing them from the pan. Use the edges of the parchment for easy removal.
  12. Pair with ice cream and enjoy!

You win some, you lose some, right? If you really want to try making this yourself (anybody could probably do a better job than I did, including my eight-year old niece), I’ll post the recipe and instructions below. May the baking gods be ever in your flavor!

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