Saturday, May 16, 2015


We started off our Baking Club with a classic:  Brownies.  The assignment was to bring the brownies you make when you're asked to bring something to an office potluck the next day--your tried and true recipe.  A couple members said they usually turn to Ghirardelli's brownie mix in that situation and were sure it was just as good, so Katie brought some Ghirardelli's to be our control.  Spoiler alert:  the mix brownies were uniformly voted the worst of the lot.  Trena claims that they only taste like chocolate because they're brown and your brain tells your tongue to expect chocolate.  If you ate box brownies blindfolded they would just taste like sugar, and not in a good way.

We had six brownies to taste, though two were virtually the same.  Annie made Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies . And since Heidi wasn't able to join, Kristi made her go-to recipe -- Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cocoa Brownies -- which are “adapted from” (but basically the same as) Alice Medrich’s recipe.   For her contribution, Kristi made Nigella's Everyday Brownies, and Katie made Brown Eyed Baker's recipe, which calls for espresso powder to add a bitter, sophisticated note.  Trena pitted Smitten against Smitten by making Deb's Salted Caramel Brownies--a "wow" factor brownie with salted caramel chunks that she was smugly certain would win (and lest this be considered cheating, she had in fact made these brownies more than once on short notice for an event the next day).

Best brownies were a tie…between the same recipe.  In a major upset, Alice Medrich's recipe (and Smitten's recipe adapted from it) for cocoa brownies were the clear winner.  The major topic of discussion had been whether cocoa powder or baking chocolate was the superior ingredient.  We were all confident that melted chocolate would make a richer, fudgier, more satisfying brownie.  We were wrong.

And we all agreed Ghiradelli boxed brownies tasted like they had no flavor after sampling so many good homemade recipes, especially the cocoa brownies, which were so easy.

Trena's plate after the tasting.  Only the box brownies survived the carnage.

We all left baking club with a sugar buzz and a head full of ideas for future meetings.  Kristi's idea for a baking club was genius!