Let’s start the fun with a brownie haiku:
you are packaged sin
crunchy-soft, brownie so moist
I wouldn’t say I’m an obsessive chocolate lover, but if I’m driven to write poetry about the subject, then either something isn’t right with me, or I stumbled onto something really good. In this case, both are true. I don’t actively seek out brownies. I don’t troll the internet for the better brownie recipe, nor do I feel the need to consume them every chance I get. Matter of fact, I find most brownies to be dry, dense bricks of chocolate overload, always squatting illegally at the pit of my stomach; until I find myself squatting on le toilette.
When I recently visited a friend for dinner, she eagerly announced brownies for dessert. Never to pass up sweets of any kind, I was mildly excited, but nothing more. What happened next really changed my attitude toward these dark dessert bars. For one, these were not homemade brownies, but prepared with a mix, by Ghirardelli, no less. I kept an open mind and asked for a small bar in case I was about to endure another gastrointestinal disaster.
After tasting a moist, chewy mound of dark chocolate, I finally got it: a good brownie only has to taste good. A really successful brownie tastes even better because of its textural subtleties. This brownie delivered on all fronts: a top layer of crispy crust was brittle-crunchy, yielding and chewy at the same time. This gave way to a dark, almost-on-the-verge-but-not-quite liquid center. It was so moist and smooth, it barely held together the fat morsels of bittersweet chocolate chips that randomly studded the bar. I chewed the contents, whipped and blended the brownie with my tongue, smacked it to the roof of my mouth, then sunk my teeth into the melted – then rehardened – black chips. It mingled perfectly with the soft cake and crackly crust, and for an overall impression, the brownie was rich, sweet and fudgy without any of the cloying overdoneness that its deep, gravity-sucking black color might suggest. In a word, pretty damn near “perfect”.
Ghirardelli has long been known for their fine quality chocolate, so branching out into their own line of chocolate brownie recipe mixes is not much of a stretch. The fact that you can achieve such an amazing brownie from a mix renewed my faith in quick and easy baking. (Cooking from scratch is not always what it’s cracked up to be.) Not that I can’t cook, but it just speaks to my lazy bachelor ways.
Ghirardelli offers a few varieties of ready-made brownie mixes. In hopes of duplicating my friend’s results, I wanted to try my own hand at this. I bought a 20 ounce package of the Dark Chocolate with chocolate chips in the mix. With just a few basic ingredients and some simple instructions later, I recreated the astounding batch of brownies my friend served me – and with minimal fuss and muss.
There is no trick or added complexity to the mixing and baking instructions that would suggest a hassle or waste of time. The extra ingredients are water, vegetable oil and an egg. That’s it. The mix provides the rest.
Brownies have never been for the health conscious, so be prepared for one serving (a 2-inch square bar) to contain a whopping 210 calories with 3.5 grams of fat. It’s all about moderation, so if you want to avoid that future triple bypass, try to eat just one. Go ahead. I dare you.