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tuesdays with dorie / baking with julia: best-ever brownies

Homemade brownies… I’ve tried many different recipes over many years. Though this might be sacrilege to say, at my house, the boxed version typically wins. The brand varies over time. The current favorite is Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies from Costco. When I saw that this week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was “Best-Ever Brownies”, I knew I’d have to try them out and see how they matched up.

I love how the recipe starts out by stating if your brownie preference is cakey (vs. fudgy) to just move onto a different recipe. Fortunately, we are firmly in the fudgy camp.

This recipe starts by melting bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate with butter. Then, an egg and sugar mixture is slowly mixed into the chocolate. More of the egg and sugar mixture is whipped until it turns a lovely pale yellow shade which gets gently folded into the chocolate. Finally, the flour is gently folded in as well.

The brownies bake until they are just set. I checked them after the recommended 23 minutes, but let them go for 25 minutes. Then, we had to wait for them to cool (torture!). When it was time to cut into them, the brownies were moist and fudgy. There was the slightest of crust of top. There would have been even less if I’d taken them out on initial checking at 23 minutes.

The judges at my house are tough. How did this recipe match up against the box mix? Howard said they were pretty good, better than most from scratch recipes we’ve tried, though maybe not “best-ever”. Were they better than Ghirardelli? It was a close matchup. While both fudgy, they were different kinds of brownies. These brownies were all about the fudgy center, without much regard for the edges. Personally, I’m an edge eater. I love the chewy (not cakey) edges and especially the corners of brownies. Ghirardelli has more edges to balance the fudgy interior. But, even if these weren’t best-ever, they were still damn good.

If you want to try for yourself, visit this week’s host Monica’s site A Beautiful Mess where she shares the recipe. The recipe can also be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, written with Julia Child, Baking with Julia. You can also visit the Tuesdays with Dorie LYL post for this recipe to find links to other baker’s brownie experiences.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


tuesdays with dorie / baking with julia: buttermilk crumb muffins

I don’t make muffins often. To be honest, I don’t really enjoy anything sweet in the morning, and, to me, muffins are just un-iced cupcakes masquerading as breakfast. Tuesdays with Dorie kicks off November with Marion Cunningham’s recipe for Buttermilk Crumb Muffins. A friend was coming over of visit on Sunday afternoon, so I decided to make a half batch of these muffins to go with our warm cups of tea.

The batter comes together easily. Fat is combined with a flour / brown sugar mixture. The recipe calls for Crisco, but I used butter instead. You could use a pastry blender or a pair of knives, but I enjoy the tactile step of using my fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture transforms into sandy crumbs in just a few minutes. At this point, you set aside some of this mixture to use as streusel topping later.

Warm spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) along with some leavening are mixed into the bowl before stirring in buttermilk and egg. Now, you are ready to fill the muffin tins with batter, sprinkle with the reserved topping, and bake. It couldn’t be easier.

The muffins both looked and smelled wonderful when they came out of the oven. Unfortunately, getting them out of the pan wasn’t so easy. The flat-topped muffins had risen and partially baked onto the top of the muffin pan, just like the picture. I did neglect to oil the top of the muffin pan, just the cups, and they wouldn’t budge. In the process of trying to free the tops from the pan, every single top came off. I ended up with two-part muffins: tops and cakes. Not the most attractive treat to serve to a guest. Fortunately, good friends are forgiving. (And, I don’t think I overfilled since I got 10 muffins from a half batch that was supposed to make 14-16 muffins.)

As for flavor, these muffins tasted good. They reminded me of the buttermilk coffee cake from Margaret Fox’s Morning Food from Café Beaujolais. We especially enjoyed the tops. They reminded my friend of her grandmother’s snickerdoodle cookies, chewy and sweet. Warm from the oven, they hit the spot for our afternoon treat, but I’m not sure I’ll make these again.

If you’d like the recipe, this week’s host Alisa from Easier Than Pie shares the recipe, along with a vegan version of the muffins. To see how the other bakers made out with their muffins, you can follow their links at Tuesdays with Dorie to read all about it. The recipe can also be found in Dorie Greenspan’s baking tome, written with Julia Child, Baking with Julia.

One final note: if you are a US citizen, please take the time to vote today! I know it sounds corny, but voting is a privilege that not everyone in the world enjoys. Take the time to exercise your right to vote and to support the candidates and issues that you believe in. Everyone’s vote counts, and you could be the one to make the difference in an incredibly close race today.