The very day that I finished this post on my at-the-time favorite brownie recipe, Noah broke the news to me: they weren't his favorite.
You simply can't imagine the depths of frustration into which his statement threw me. The quest for the best brownie recipe--one that we both agreed on--has been a bit of a preoccupation for me. After finishing that post back in October, I thought I could finally rest easy. But now I see that a part of me knew I would never find peace on this topic. Why else did I decide to include the word "current" bracketed off in the blog post title? (As in, "Sarahs [current] favorite brownie recipe.") At the very moment that I was gushing over how this recipe was "my perfect, everyday, brownie satisfaction," my subconscious was hard at work undermining my complacency.
Shortly after Noah's confession, I decided to undertake a legitimate brownie bake-off. I surveyed and curated a list of recipes to test--and that's about as far as I got. The logistics and methodology of the experiment kept throwing me for a loop. Science is really not my strong suit, and this weakness proved something of a roadblock to my development of a testing strategy that would yield definitive answers.
What a happy coincidence and relief to discover that the Pancake Princess decided to undertake a brownie bake-off herself just last month--and it seems fairly scientific! And what a happier coincidence and relief to discover that her overall brownie winner is the very same recipe that was my winner for years and years, until it was supplanted by another recipe for a brief four-month blip. (I haven't made those brownies since I posted them in October. After Noah declared it wasn't his favorite, I didn't have the heart to make it again.)
What I've realized from all of this is that oftentimes my "ideal" brownie is dependent on the context in which they'll be eaten and served, and also on what I have in my cupboard. Some brownie recipes rely on melted chocolate chips, others on unsweetened baking chocolate, still others on cocoa powder, or a combination. Some brownies are thick and sturdy, others are thin and gooey. Some are best served straight from the oven, others keep well on the counter and can be made ahead.
So, here's a run-down of some of my favorite brownie recipes, and how I like to consume them.
the brownie run-down
I haven't made the King Arthur Fudge Brownie recipe in a while, but it was my favorite recipe for years and years. It has always been the recipe I use for catered events, because the brownies are thick, moist, chocolatey, and they really stand on their own. Noah recently remarked they are the closest I've ever come to the "perfect" brownie, in his opinion. (Closest, but not perfect. ARGGGHHH!!!!!) If you're looking for a recipe that checks all the boxes, and particularly if you are bringing brownies to an event and will serve them on a platter, these are a GREAT, close-to-perfect option.
Recently, I've been really into Simply Recipe's Best Chocolate Brownies (formerly called "Suzanne's Best Brownies"). This is the recipe I often made in high school. They are, in the words of Maria, so...squidgy. There is hardly a better word for them. If you want a brownie that is squidgy, these are for you. Because of that squidginess, I kind of love them for making brownie ice cream sandwiches.
If I am looking for a quick and satisfying, universally enjoyed, late-night brownie experience, then the recipe I shared on the blog last year is what I'd opt for.
When I make brownies specifically to be served warm from the oven, underneath a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, I go with this option. I don't know why, but something about them is perfect a la mode.
When I want a brownie cookie, Smitten Kitchen's Browniest Cookies are the bomb diggity.
If you're an obsessive chaser of the shiny crinkly-topped brownie, I can't help you. I'm not. For that, BraveTart is your girl. I haven't tried her brownie recipe yet, but much of what I've made of hers is spot on delicious. (Her recipe came in #6 in the Pancake Princess bake-off.)
I just love what Sophie had to share on brownies, especially the famous, almost cult status, Baked Brownie from the Baked bakery in NYC. "The Baked Brownie has turned out as my ideal brownie, but not consistently," she says. "The King Arthur brownie is my most reliable and go-to, though not my ideal." There you have it: choose between inconsistently ideal, or consistently un-ideal.
Maria agrees that the King Arthur Fudge Brownies are not her absolute favorite, although good. Besides Simply Recipe's Best Chocolate Brownies, she also really likes the King Arthur Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies -- both recipes are super easy, and just need cocoa. (Although she'll add in a handful of chocolate chips!)
What's the moral here? Brownies are delicious and should be consumed constantly, in any form you find them. I've met millions of sub-par brownies, but I've yet to meet a straight-up bad one.
Now be sure to check out the Pancake Princess' brownie bake-off post for more recipes!