Saturday, April 3, 2010

Box Brownie Bonanza


I'm not usually a box-mix kind of person, but I was at the supermarket the other day...Hold on. Let me explain. I was at a real supermarket: big, florescent lights, a long shelf with 40 kinds of potato chips, the real deal. I hold a strange place in my heart for a real supermarket. I fear that the supermarket is anathema to many of my neighbors (in the larger sense, not necessarily the nice people who live adjacent to me), but I'm not ashamed of it. I will forever hold a sweet and tender place in my heart for my beloved Wegmans. (sigh)

So I was at the supermarket with the Little Redhead and, as I am wont to do, I was pouring over flours in the baking section. Distracted from the various Bob's Red Mill bags, something caught my eye: something baaaaad: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix.

Oh yes. Take a moment to go back and read that again. I'll wait.

Much to my sick and joyous delight, this box mix is VEGAN, so into the cart it went. It is my birthday this weekend, after all, and even the recovering chocolate addict needs to fall off the wagon every once in awhile.

I try not to bake sweets very often because that leads to eating them and eating them slows the already VERY SLOW loss of those 25lb love handles left by the gestation of the Little Readhead. But honestly: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix!!

Anyway, I especially don't make brownies very often because vegan brownies can be intensely disappointing. It's almost like they're willfully disappointing. So I entered this brownie-making endeavor fully aware that they might end up a chalky, cocoa, stomach ache or mushy, sugary glop. Therefore, I was not prepared for tonight's outcome: nice, chewy edges, soft, very chocolatey middle.

Yes, gentle readers, they were good.

They weren't 'grandma' good, but still good. I have memories of my Grandmother's brownies that will be burned into my brain until I take my last breath. She made them the old-fashioned way, carefully melting the chocolate in a double boiler and so on and they had the perfect fudgy consistency. I have never been able to re-create them and probably never will so any comparison against their character is, perhaps, unfair, but without goals, what are we, really?

I attribute the success of this batch, not just to the high-quality chocolate in the mix, but to the use of soy-yogurt as an egg replacement. For years, I've suffered through baking with Ener-G egg replacer. It has its place, but I'm not sure that place is in food. It makes things chalky and tapioca-tasting and often ruins the texture of cakes and muffins. I think I've now officially decided that it is yucky. And yes, that is a technical term.

So here is the ultra-complicated recipe:

Vegan Box Brownies

1 Brownie Mix
1/3 c. vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil)
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. soy yogurt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease an 8 or 9in. square pan.
2. Mix the wet ingredients.
3. Add the mix and mix until it's all moistened. Don't beat it smooth.
4. Pour it in the pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes. They should seem under-done. Brownies that are 'firm' when coming out of the oven will likely taste over-cooked when they cool and lose any gooey/chewiness.

Oh chocolate stupor, how you vex and delight me. Please, no calls or important emails for awhile.