The Quest for the Perfect Brownie

For months (well, weeks),  I have had the urge to try a number of different brownie recipes. Some people quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but to be honest the perfect brownie is a search for which there is much more likely to be a solution. Now, I’ve tried a fair few brownie recipes in my time as a person who is alive on planet earth, but had managed to collect several which I wished to try. I though the fairest way to test them would be to buy a tonne (well, a kilogram) of cheap choccy from Sainsbury’s Basics, 12 eggs from Iceland, and check the sugar supplies, then go for making a half batch of each of the recipes, baked in a mish-mash of loaf and cake tins.

I made 5 different recipes: banana brownies, brownies with 100% cacao, Nigella Lawson’s recipe, charlieissocoollike’s recipe, and a friend (shout-out to Andy Ritson – the person, not the dog)’s recipe, which involved crumbling some cookies into the mix; he used Oreos, I used maryland ‘cos that’s what I had.

And after all that? Personally, I prefer the recipe I already had (available here). The banana ones had an interesting consistency – they only took half a small banana, so the flavour wasn’t too strong, but they were very gooey. The Nigella ones are very cakey. Charlie’s were incredibly sweet, even using dark chocolate chips. The 100% cacao ones were, by comparison, really quite bitter, though interesting and satisfying with only a tiny bite. Andy’s were quite nice, though I wasn’t convinced by the addition of the cookies… might try them with oreos one of these days if I’ve got any going spare.

Most brownie recipes are variations on a theme: melt some chocolate and butter, whisk lots of eggs and sugar, add a little flour, gently fold together, bake until just set so they’re still a bit gooey, cool in tin and then cut when cold. And yet even so, they’re all so different… odd how they can all be called brownies!

Right, so without further ado, the recipes. Each makes about 20-25 brownies depending on how big you want them, and each should half well enough if you want to make less.

Chocolate-Banana Brownies

100g milk chocolate + 50g chips
50g dark chocolate
86g butter
340g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
½ of a small banana-well mashed
96g flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 160oC. Grease an 8 inch pan.
  2. Mix flour, & cocoa together and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, eggs, and banana in a separate bowl-stir with fork until combined.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium low heat, then reduce heat to low and add the chocolates. Cook and stir over low until smooth. Cool 5 minutes.
  5. Add chocolate to sugar egg/banana mixture-stir until combined.
  6. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips
  8. Bake 35-40 min, check at 35.


Nigella Lawson

150g butter

300g light brown sugar

80g cocoa

150g plain flour

1 tsp bic soda

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

100g milk choc chips

  1. Melt butter over low heat; add sugar, stirring until blended
  2. Stir in mix of cocoa, flour, and bic soda; remove from heat
  3. Whisk eggs with vanilla then add into pan mix
  4. Stir in the chopped chocolate and then pour into foil-lined baking tray
  5. Cook at 190oC for 20-25 minutes – still wobbly; gungy cake tester
  6. Put tin on rack to cool before cutting

Charlieissocoollike

50g dark chocolate

150g milk chocolate

90g butter

500g white sugar (I’d advise reducing this to maybe 400g)

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs, beaten

128g plain flour

100g chocolate chips

  1. Melt chocolate and butter
  2. Add sugar, then vanilla, then eggs
  3. Stir in flour and chocolate chips
  4. Bake at 175oC for 25-30 minutes in a greased tray
  5. Cool, dust with icing sugar, then cut

Andy Ritson

160g butter

200g dark chocolate

4 eggs + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla

160g light brown sugar

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

150g pack chocolate biscuits e.g. oreos, broken into quarters

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm/8in square baking tin with butter, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate.
  3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla together in a large bowl until the eggs begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate into it – again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and a third of the biscuits and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  5. Scatter the remaining biscuits over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25–30 minutes. The middle should be ever so slightly gooey. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin – the top will sink and crack a little.
  6. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar.

100% Cacao

190g Venezuelan Carenero Superior 100% cacao, coarsely chopped

50g slightly salted butter

2 eggs

100g caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease the baking tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Melt the cacao and butter in heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and creamy.
  5. Fold in melted chocolate and butter until well combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, until the centre is just firm to the touch.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin before cutting.
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