There’s an article in the NY Times today about brownies. It showcases the struggle between cakey vs. fudgey brownies, and between those who put nuts in their brownies (pecans?? come on, people) and those who leave them unadorned.
Those debates cannot be resolved in a single article – they are timeless struggles that will wage on regardless. But let me say this much, in hopes that we can move forward: I know that my brownies are true.
Like many others, I make the Supernatural Brownies (first published by the Times about four years ago), and I found the recipe to be almost perfect. No nuts are needed, although some may choose to garnish with the occasional walnut. They are dark and rich, fudgey but still light. They take a long time to make, but are entirely worth it. I add a bit of dark molasses to the recipe to make the flavor more rich, I beat the eggs for what seems like forever, and I use the best chocolate that I can find (within limits).
I grew up in a house with brownies. They had chocolate frosting and walnuts, and resembled standard chocolate cake more than anything else. Then came adolescence and adulthood, and I scorned brownies entirely, deeming them too simplistic, too sweet and too American to be worthwhile. Was this all there is to belief in brownies? I left the Church of Brownies and deemed brownie lovers as simplistic, blinded clods.
It wasn’t until many years later that I sampled a friend’s brownie at a party. There was little else to eat but old artichoke dip and cornnuts, and so the brownie was a refuge. But this brownie was different, magical; it was dense and powerful, not all confectioners’ sugar and Betty Crocker mix. I did some research and encountered Supernatural Brownies, and have not looked back since.
Now I find that I welcome discussion and much dissent in my Church of Brownies. I have my own recipe — it works for me, my friends like it too, and it fills its purpose. I don’t begrudge others their own interpretations, and I usually don’t belittle them for it. If someone attacked me as full of blatant hubris and bloated self-opinions because I do not precisely follow a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, I would be genuinely confused; first, what business is it of yours, and second, who cares? These are my brownies. They satisfy me and make me happy. Your authority claims, Better Homes and Gardens, are secondary to the basic task of filling me and making me happy. If you disagree, then I challenge you to a bake-off.