What a difference these few days of glorious sunshine has made. Suddenly blossoms are blooming and the masses are crowding outside in a state of happy congeniality to unfold themselves out upon London parks, myself with them. It almost makes me laugh, to observe these stately oaks and limes shyly budding off little furls of baby green leaves.
it is not just the trees that have shed their stern winter demeanor. I
was treated to the sight of a gentlemen with a bouncing toddler wrapped
around his neck. The little one rode those shoulders with delight, and
clutched in his grimy hands a Mr. Whippy, which state was fast become
more liquid than solid and steadily dripped off onto his venerable
mount's head who bore it all with calm dignity and continued his
imperturbable stride. Meanwhile his wife flapped around him, armed with a
tissue and trying to tend to the sticky crown of his besmirched head
harkening back to those gloomy days past, one of my mini baking feats
then involved the ubiquitous brownie. It is a testy subject and
identifying the requirements for a good brownie (let alone the best)
tends to result in quite strong verbal contention. So I hunted around
and made four different brownies that I felt provided a general
representation of the main brownie types: moussey, fudgey, chewy, and
cakey (depicted below clockwise in that order, beginning at the top
left). These all have slightly different taste, textures, and
preparation method. After an overnight stint in the fridge, I set them
before the graduate population at Imperial and waited for comments.
recipes can be found through the links below. I've also added my own quick description of its preparation
and the end result.
the moussey one- 'ribbon' method
brownie manages to be very soft and squidgey without being dense. There
is a lot of sugar in this brownie, giving it a more caramel taste than
rich chocolate. In fact, there is so much sugar that during the baking
you actually get a separate, light coloured, delicate sugar crust
lifting off. On a whim, I also added chopped bananas to the mix- do
ignore, I hope it didn't affect the brownie too much.
the fudgey one- chocolate fondant method with all important beating
the moussey brownie, the fudgey one does not have a distinct crumb but
everything is amalgamated into one fudgey mass. It has a good chewiness,
and the most beautiful crust of all the brownies- lovely dark rivulets
of goodness. Fresh from the oven, it didn't shine particularly in the
taste department. It is not as sweet (as the moussey or chewy one) but
wasn't quite deep and chocolatey. However, it is incredibly rich, and,
following a good night's rest in the fridge that allowed its flavors to
truly develop, it near topped my list. This isn't just any brownie, this
brownie hits the decadent mark.
the chewy one- chocolate fondant method
is another of David Lebovitz's recipes (without the ground mints), and
moving up in cake-likeness. Admittedly, this is what springs to mind
when I think of a typical brownie. It has a fairly
dense crumb that makes a chewy interior, and a good crust that is nicely
furrowed with a
slight sheen. In fact, during the mini taster of the brownies when fresh
from the oven, the chewy brownie was best loved. Taste-wise, there is a
good degree of chocolate though it was felt to be on the sweet side (at
levels between the fudgey and the moussey one).
the cakey one- creaming method
have to admit, this is my favourite for its intense chocolate-ness. I
quite like its texture too, rather crumbly and soft, with the slightest
chew without being heavy. This is completely different from the previous
three brownies, which all had their small similarities. Indeed, my
heart gave a little skip of joy when I first read the description of
this brownie to be 'peaty,' and peaty it is. You can almost suck it and
its cocoa-y wonder down. A pity about the major cracks across its crust
these are my own subjective opinions, and the brownies were only tasted
by a very select demography. The recipes I have chosen may not have
been the true epitome of a brownie of these classes and there is the
possibility that I am incapable of following instructions. So please, if
you pledge by a certain of these recipes, don't be too distraught; in
all likelihoods I just didn't make it as well as it ought. Nevertheless,
the results are as such:
cakey one was voted unanimously to have the best flavor, no doubt
thanks to the whopping amount of Valrhona cocoa powder I tipped into it.
In general, following the overnight resting period, both cakey and
fudgey ranked either first or second. Moussey seems to be the marmite of
the bunch, either being voted first or spurned to the last rank. The
chewy one that did so well fresh from the oven, while it didn't
deteriorate didn't improve with time either, so could not hold its place
amongst such tasty competition and took a modal third place.
there you have it. I shall be posting on more brownies soon: candied pecan brownies and my supreme banoffee brownie. In the meanwhile, I
cannot wait for this tomorrow's Cheese and Wine Festival at Southbank.
This blog will be moving to a new, more appropriately named, domain soon: www.feeding-times.com.
Updates soon to come!