The 2nd Annual Great Ingredient Brownie Bake-Off

We had so much fun eating brownies for lunch last year that we decided to do it again! This year, five competitors faced off in one of our favorite office contests, a good old-fashioned brownie bake-off.

Because seriously, anytime you have a work-mandated excuse to eat a plateful of brownies in one sitting…now THAT’S a good day.

But first, a little back story on brownies. The earliest printed recipe for brownies appeared in the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook 1896, created by a woman named Fannie Farmer, who was well known cook and lecturer on food and nutrition. (And yes, the inspiration for the Fanny Farmer chocolate brand years later.)

The first recipe called for molasses instead of chocolate, and the brownies were baked in individual molds. In 1906, the recipe was updated with chocolate swapped in for molasses – and Americans discovered a new favorite dessert!

Fudgy brownies have a minimum amount of flour and no leavening (such as baking powder).

Cakelike brownies are just like they sound – like little cakes. With less butter and more flour than fudgy brownies, along with the addition of baking powder, they bake up softer and lighter.

Chewy brownies are made with extra eggs and a combination of different types of chocolate, creating a nice, chewy texture.

Blondies aren’t made with chocolate at all; instead, they’re butterscotch bars made with brown sugar, butter, and eggs.

Brownie bake-off contestants Brownie bake-off selection

The five brownie recipes in our bakeoff definitely fell in the chewy, fudgy category – and not a blondie in sight! After stuffing our faces with delicious, chocolaty goodness, it all came down to a vote.

Emily's browniesIn third place: Emily’s Glossy Fudge Brownies. Made with three (!!!) sticks of butter, six (!!!) eggs, cocoa, and dark chocolate, these brownies were incredibly rich, dense and chocolaty.

 

Marcie's browniesIn second place: Marcie’s Snickers Brownies. These insanely good brownies had gooey chunks of Snickers candy bars mixed right into the batter.

 

And in first place: Lindsey’s aptly-named Best Ever Brownies, from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking. Dark, moist, and studded with plenty of chocolate chips, these extra-rich brownies were a chocolate lover’s dream. Check out the recipe and try it for yourself!

Lindsey's brownies

Best Ever Brownies
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (8oz/227g) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6¼oz/184g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8¼oz/244g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (5oz/150g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4oz/123g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup (9oz/270g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), then line a 7×11 inch baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine melted butter, oil and both sugars.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and salt, then whisk for about one minute until evenly combined and light in color.
  • Over the same bowl sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (don’t over mix). Fold in half of the chocolate chunks.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then smooth the top. Generously top with the remaining chocolate chunks.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the brownies no longer jiggles and is JUST set to the touch.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the baking tray and slicing into 16 brownies. Enjoy!

The Great Ingredient Brownie Bake-Off

Everyone likes brownies.  Even people who say they don’t like brownies actually like brownies because they’re obviously kidding and otherwise what kind of Mad Max hellscape do we live in?

Brownies sound like a straightforward endeavor – everyone has a picture of the standard brownie in their head.  But what makes the best brownie? That devil is in the details. Chewiness? Robust chocolate flavor? Structurally sound so that when you sneak one and run behind the laundry room door it doesn’t crumble into an evidential trail of shame?

That’s the kind of mystery Ingredient likes to get to the bottom of. And the Great Ingredient Brownie Bake-Off was born.

Nine brave contestants submitted their creations. There were no rules. Mint? Oh yes. Sea salt?? Oh hell yes. Possibly more of a bar than a brownie??? Pass. My. Smelling. Salts.

BrowniesBrownie close-upBrownie lineup

“Fortune befriends the bold.” – Emily Dickinson (likely referring to baked goods)

Once the brownie entries were all lined up, it was a truly awe-inspiring sight. So much so that little work took place and eventually the entire company just stood around waiting for the contest to start.

Brownie tasting

The testing was rigorous. People hummed and hawed over their findings, went back for seconds, and wished for milk.

Truthfully, everyone was a winner because we ate nine different types of brownies for lunch. But the official winner was the Yummy Bar Brownies (aka Wake & Bake Brownies). Full disclosure, they were my entry. Gooey caramel and chocolate chips sandwiched between two layers of chewy brownie. Make a batch for yourself!

yummy bars

Yummy Bar Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ¼ ounce) package of German chocolate cake mix
  • ¾ cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces (about ½ a package) chocolate chips
  • 40 caramels
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk (separate from above)

 

Directions:

  1. Mix together cake mix, melted butter and 1/3 cup evaporate milk. Spread half of this in a lightly greased 8 in square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle chips over top of mixture. Melt caramels with remaining evaporated milk and drizzle over chocolate.
  3. Crumble and pat remaining mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.