I was excited to make this week's Tuesdays With Dorie assignment, the Tribute-to-Katharine-Hepburn Brownies. Our book group's (4 couples slowly working our way through Dante's Divine Comedy at the moment) summer dinner was in the works and my plan was to have a brownie taste test as the dessert. The group had flipped over the "Baked" Brownies that I made back in February, and I wanted to stack those up against some other fudgy brownie varieties. I was just deciding which recipes to use in the taste-off when the TWD July recipes were announced - I could easily add Dorie's KH recipe to the brownie lineup.
We held the taste test on July 3, with 7 testers from my book group. My husband, the 8th member, is allergic to chocolate, but I had some blondies also. And vanilla ice cream, his favorite (both of which I will post soon.) I will blog each brownie in its own post in coming weeks and then devote a special post to the taste-test. But I will include my testers' salient comments about Dorie's brownies below.
- This was an easy recipe and generated few dirty dishes: a bowl, two pans, a few measuring cups and spoons. If the recipe were written with weight measurements along with volume, it would require even fewer dishes. Love my digital scale!
- I've always been leery of combining cinnamon with chocolate, but I loved last month's Cinnamon Cake, and my favorite chocolate chip cookies have a touch of cinnamon (barely discernable to me, but adds to the deliciousness), so I used just a touch, 1/4 tsp.
- I used Green & Black's cocoa powder and Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate 70%.
- The recipe uses a TON of butter - a whole stick in a small pan of brownies - and not much flour. The butter was really hard to incorporate; the batter was pretty greasy and the brownies were greasy coming out of the pan.
- It's interesting how brownie instructions differ: Dorie says don't beat too much because you don't want to aerate the dough.
- I'm so excited that I recently acquired two 8" square metal pans from my mom. They are the ones that she baked in when I was little, and they are well-used and perfect. I've always disliked my Pyrex 8" and am happy to have an alternative. I made a parchment "sling", lining the bottom and running it up the sides to use as handles to pull out brownies.
- My brownies baked at 320 for 35 minutes. I used King Arthur divot test and it worked perfectly for these brownies. I used to have a devil of a time with brownie doneness, and this test has saved brownie-baking for me!
- I cooled the brownies on a rack for 30 minutes then refrigerated them until chilled and cut them. I left one out to taste immediately and froze the rest (this was part of the taste test; all of the brownies had been in the freezer).
Here's a sneak peek at the taste test setup! The KH brownies are in the top left corner, the Baked one in the bottom right. See the divot in the center blondie?
The brownie top was nice and crackly, and the inside moist and dense. The edge piece was good and chewy, towards the center it was nice and fudgy. I thought that the hint of cinnamon and the coffee gave these brownies a complex and dusky flavor. In true Dorie style, the chunks of chocolate added to the intensity of the chocolate too. The brownies were a bit greasy so I think I'd reduce the butter by at least 1 T.
Without giving away the taste-test results, I can say that these brownies were generally well-received by the group. One of my testers, AT, referred to these as the brownies "with all the cinnamon." so I'm glad I'd cut the amount. Her husband did not like the coffee flavor in the brownies. I think it was more noticeable in these than in other chocolate desserts that have it. Another tester, SF, noted "Lots o Butter" about Dorie's recipe.
I've got to thank Lisa of Surviving Oz for selecting this recipe for us to bake this week. The choice couldn't have come at a better time! Lisa will be posting the recipe (update: this is the first time Lisa made brownies from scratch and she did an amazing job), so if you don't have Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking From My Home to Yours you can find the recipe there. But really, do yourself a favor and buy the book!