The Road To El Browniedo

Disclaimer: The following post depicts explicit moments of food porn that will definitely ruin your diet. Like many of the other posts in this section.

I Can’t, Won’t Do it.

I can’t do it, I can’t call them a dessert. That implies that one can only consume them at the end of a meal. That there’s a specific time and a place to take pleasure in these magical morsels of magnanimity. That it’s only acceptable to enjoy them in a certain way lest you be judges. I just can’t. This article of food, this gift from the Almighty, this source of unlimited happiness is so much more than just a dessert.

The lasting impact it has on the human psyche, on each individual’s own person. The emotions it induces, the sensations it produces. How it provides warmth, brightness and sustenance in the same bite. I’m sorry but it would be nothing short of blasphemy to pass it off as merely a dessert. You know it and I know it. It deserves better.

Brownies: The Complete Food (And Food Porn)

I can tell by the blank look in your face that you are lost. You’re wondering what I’m referring to. I, similarly am wondering if you noticed the picture or read the title when you clicked the link. Brownies, my dear friend, brownies. A complete food.

No, I don’t mean nutritionally, so can the experts please either calmly sit back down or exit the facility in an orderly manner? Thanks, oh and single file please.

Anyways, they are the complete food. Tasting ostentatiously amazing is only but the first step. This journey goes on for thousands of miles. The path passes through the provision of warmth and happiness. It meanders through the heartlands of endorphins. Wheels chug on past as the waves that ebb on the shores of heartbreak. Eventually , you enter a state of pure bliss, a glowing, all-encompassing sense of nirvana. From there, it’s only onwards, towards any destination you feel like.

Can your kale salads do that? NO!

A Hangry Man’s Purpose

The purpose of this post though isn’t to rave on about brownies. Quite frankly, a single post wouldn’t be enough. No, today I wish to share with you, my pursuit of happiness. A gruelling journey filled with wonder, intrigue and couverture, in search of the ultimate brownie.

Hey you! Yeah you, from Bay View! It’s been a while. I know the nostalgia of the bake sales brought you here. I’m glad. For the rest, I managed to garner a reputation for making brownies since my school days. Heck, I frequently take credit for our tenth grade bake sale successes. In spite of all the fame, I didn’t have my own recipe.

The earliest were spruced up Betty Crocker cake mixes. Spruced up in the sense that I added extra ingredients, changed up the quantities and so on. The next level up was from a chocolate-centric cookbook, that quickly became the ride-or-die for brownies. As much as I love those, they weren’t my own creation. Thus eventually, taking credit for those started feeling undeserved.

Remaking The Brownie

It wasn’t until this year, 6 years after the last time I made a brownie, that I decided to reclaim my rightful place, as the Lord of the Brownie. A few videos online sort of set me off on that path and I began a long-running experiment. I’ve made four batches, whenever I’ve found the time, since July. Each time, changing things and recording my results. After 4 batches, while I don’t think I’ve cracked the fabled brownie code, I do feel I’ve gotten very close.

Let’s see what I learned first shall we?

Note: Oven times and temperatures are as per a fan oven. Every Oven is different, make sure to account for yours.

Attempt 1 (25th July, 2018)

A piece from the first batch dated 25th July, 2018.


  • 300 grams Dark Chocolate (at least 72%, couverture is best but not necessary)
  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 397 grams (one can) condensed milk
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 6 eggs


  1. Preheat your oven to 180℃ (350℉)
  2. Melt the chocolate, butter and condensed milk together. There’s a couple of ways you can do this. The traditional, more controlled, safer way is a bain-marie (double boiler). A faster, riskier way is stove top. My preferred method, and the fastest is the microwave. At this quantity, 1 minute blasts tend to work well, but that’s only if you trust your microwave and your gut. Otherwise, 20-second intervals. You want it fully melted and smooth. This mixture tends to melt to a thick consistency.
  3. Next, you must sift together flour, salt and cocoa powder. Not only does this lighten up the flour, resulting in a better texture in the end result, you also eliminate lumps. Generally cocoa powder tends to be very lumpy and you wouldn’t want to bite into one of those lumps.Salt here is to taste. The 2 teaspoons is a figure inserted to calm the nerves of the numerically anxious. Feel free to adjust.
  4. Add the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs, making sure to crack them beforehand as to avoid shells in the mix and to screen for blood. Using a whisk attachment, beat on medium-high till fluffy and mousse-like. Medium-high is about 6-7 on my mixer. You can do this by hand but it will take a while. If you want the work-out, be my guest. A hand mixer should work fine too.
  5. Assuming that you’ve allowed the chocolate to cool, mix it into the egg mixture. Just make sure you get end up with chocolate scrambled eggs.
  6. Now you fold in the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold, not beat. It’s best to use a spatula and a cut and stir motion. By which I mean, gently slide the utensil through the middle and then around the side of the bowl. It will take a bit but you want to retain the fluff you got from the eggs.
  7. Bake in a 9×13 pan, greased with butter or non-stick spray for 20-30 minutes. I started checking at around 17 minutes just in case but these were in for in for about 25 minutes.

Analysis and Results:

The addition of the condensed milk was my ‘brilliant’ idea create an extremely fudge-y morsel of pure decadence. The result however was not a faithful representation of the intentions and hopes on the back end of this recipe. The flavour was outstanding. The dark chocolate and the cocoa powder called to each other like long-lost siblings meeting on a flowering meadow of flavour. Thus, you are rewarded with an intense, fruity, almost spicy chocolatey-ness with a heady, enticing aroma.

The sugar and condensed milk add just enough sweetness to balance out the bitter otherwise it would commandeer your palate and steer it away from bliss to revolt. The vanilla and the salt you won’t taste but should you omit them, you will miss them. They add a depth to the background of the chocolate flavour, ensuring that every bite is a show stopping crescendo.

The texture, while thoroughly enjoyable, was not nearly as fudge-y as I was hoping for. The crumbs were tender and densely packed together. However, the mouthfeel was more crumbly than smoothly fudge-y, more akin to cakes rather than a brownie. While satisfied with the taste, I felt I could improve the balance of the bitter and sweetness. The texture though was now my first priority.

Attempt 2 (26th August, 2018)

A piece from the second batch dated 26th August, 2018.


  • 300 grams Dark Chocolate (at least 72%, couverture is best but not necessary)
  • 200 grams unsalted butter
  • 125 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract or bean paste
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 6 eggs
  • 200 grams milk and white chocolate (buttons, optional, to stir in)


The method has remained mostly the same as the previous attempt. The differences include:

  1. Caster sugar is now added to the brown sugar and eggs. Whisked in the same manner as before, till a mousse-like consistency
  2. The additional milk and white chocolate is folded in after the flour.

Analysis and Result:

The texture was vastly different this time around. I had assumed that, if not exactly the same, the condensed milk would result in something similar. Boy was I wrong. The simple switch from condensed milk to butter ensured that the crumb was exponentially more tender. The flavour remained almost exactly the same, owing to the fact that the ingredients were mostly the same. I will say however, the brownie itself was considerably less sweet though. Thus, the major conclusion is, 125 grams of caster sugar is a bit too less.

Keeping tabs on the cooking time seems to be key in getting the right texture here. I started watching it again at 17 minutes and took it out around 22. This ensured the centre remained fudge-y but there was still a fair bit of crumbliness and not enough of the melt-in-your mouth decadence that I was so desperate for. The additional chocolate helped, but it’s worth mentioning that the white chocolate retained its shape throughout baking. That meant there were pockets of brownie with relatively solid chocolate.

That could be pleasant but not entirely my idea of food porn.

Attempt 3 (20th September, 2018)

A piece from the third batch dated 20th September, 2018.


  • 400 grams Dark Chocolate (at least 72%, couverture is best but not necessary)
  • 200 grams unsalted butter
  • 125 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla (bean paste or extract)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 6 eggs
  • 200 grams milk chocolate (to stir in)


Exactly the same as the method for previous attempts. The major difference in this batch is the addition of extra chocolate. I stuck to adding only milk chocolate as an add-on this time though. What you add here is once again entirely up to your own discretion.

Analysis and Results:

This better was somehow much more viscous than the previous two. It was the first time I had to spread out the batter to make it fit. The previous two were on the dryer end of the tender, brownie crumage spectrum, despite the batters being significantly runnier. That has me worried about the end result of this one.

Thankfully though, it was moist, slightly more than the previous two. The two chocolates met and complemented each other brilliantly. It was as if, two passionate dancers had met after a long and arduous separation and immediately synced into an elaborate tango. This produced an experience so pleasurable, so sensual, I could have declared that a success there and then. Had it not been for one little thing.

The mouthfeel was still, exasperatingly still, soft tender crumbs bursting in all directions of your palate. While yes, that is enough to ensure an explosion of emulsions and flavours. It does fall just short of reaching Nirvana, which is what I’m after.

At this point, I’m thinking I may have to do something drastically different. It could be that the additional cocoa powder is drying out the batter. While it does intensify the chocolate flavour, it may be the cause of the less than stellar texture.

And thus, attempt four was born

Attempt 4 (18th November, 2018)

A piece from the most recent batch dated 18th November, 2018.


  • 500 grams dark chocolate (72% cacao minimum)
  • 300 grams fat ( can be all butter or a combination of butter and oil. Don’t go all oil)
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 200 grams brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 2 tsp espresso powder

To Top:

  • White couverture chocolate
  • M&M’s (plain and almond)
  • 100% Cacao Chocolate
  • Or anything you like really


(Note that while this is largely the same, I want to write it down to reiterate. Just in case there is a difference.)

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)
  • Melt the chocolate and fat together. See the method of attempt one for further details on melting methods.
  • Add the eggs and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat using the whisk attachment until light in colour and mousse-like in texture.
  • Sift together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder.
  • Mix in the now cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs.
  • Now fold in the dry ingredients
  • Place in a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, checking after the 17 minute mark.
  • If adding toppings, cover the top with the desired amount before placing in the oven. Contrary-wise, you can also fold them in before placing the batter in your baking pan.

Analysis and Results:

Where to begin with this batch? I can say, working on the conclusions of the last attempt worked. The issue of the texture has finally been rectified. Even the more set, cake-y, outer rim melded into pure soft bliss. Adding in more chocolate meant both a stronger flavour and smoother mouthfeel. The espresso joined the salt and the vanilla in the background, and managed to do the previously impossible. It elevated the chocolate flavour just enough so that every bite was a crescendo and every bite that followed, an encore.

There was one glaring issue with this batch though. In the 20 minute bake time, the outside was cooked well but the inner sanctum if you will, was still pretty runny. I didn’t realise that until I tried to cut into the brownies, only to watch them fall apart. Solve one problem and watch it lead to another.

The texture was nothing short of erotic however. The moment you bit into a piece, it softened from the heat of your mouth. Biting it meant it smeared over your tongue, covering your palate with satin smoothness. That only made you enjoy the deep, intense yet balanced flavour of the chocolate even more. To get a good piece however, you just have to chill it.

The Conclusion: Inconclusive

And therein lies the issue. You don’t chill brownies. That inhibits their ability to be the ultimate anytime food. This could be such for a few reasons but I feel it’s mostly due to the addition of a higher concentration of fat and chocolate. That directly resulted in increasing the baking time needed. Which meant, pulling them out at the usual 22 minute mark left me with an underdone brownie.

Only slightly underdone because, they are addictively good. The increased fat could have also oversaturated the flour, making it unable to hold all the ingredients together. The balance of gooey and cake that is so desperately sought after still seems only just that bit out of reach. But no matter. The purpose of this experiment wasn’t just the gratuitous indulgence of food porn, it was to learn. To develop, to create. With each attempt, I am just that bit closer. Will I find the right road to El Browniedo, to the state of zen, of pure and utter satisfaction?

Maybe, maybe not.

Is that going to stop me?


(Yes, I made a self-referential fat joke that’s also a pun. Deal with it.)

PS: I ran a few polls on my Instagram Stories centred on each of these attempts. The results were pretty fascinating.