I love brownies. They might be my favorite thing in the world to eat – within reasonable parameters, you understand. They’re definitely my favorite things to bake because they’re so versatile. Even using a store-bought mix, the possibilities for modification and customization are nearly endless. Trust me, I’ve tested this.
If you’re brave enough to move beyond the store-bought mixes, though, a heretofore unimaginable world of delicious possibilities waits for you. Some of these recipes will have you follow a complex laundry list of steps and various vessels to mix the ingredients together; others will require you purchase odd quantities of baking chocolate and terrifying volumes of butter. Still more will ask you to mix groups of ingredients separately and layer them in the pan, or swirl them together. Like I said, the possibilities are endless.
The best kind of brownie recipe, though – the Holy Grail of brownies, if you like – are the one-bowl brownies. If you’ve ever wondered (and I know you have) what’s the easiest brownie you can make without buying a mix, I’d tell you to find a one-bowl recipe.
There’s hundreds of recipes out there; you can find one to fit your preferred texture of brownies, cakey, fudgey, or chewy. I love simple desserts, so I set out to discover the best of the best one-bowl brownie recipes and compared them to each other looking for similarities, differences, and modifications. Naturally, a little testing was needed from time to time.
Findings and Results
This post could get kind of long. I really got into the whole idea of finding the mythical best recipe, so I might have gotten carried away and turned this into some kind of research project. I’ve collected a series of recipes I’ve found from all over the internet (or the first one-bowl recipes I could find on Pinterest; I’ve heard it both ways) and have compared them to each other.
I’ve tried to find out what makes a good cakey recipe vs. a good fudgey or chewy recipe. While I doubt that I can come up with a definitive recipe for a one-bowl brownie, I hope that my research can help me figure out what makes a good one, and with any luck, help you as well. For the record, my personal preference is for fudgey brownies, so naturally, my perfect recipe will be for the ideal fudgey brownie.
It came down to minutiae, in the end, so I brushed up my food science knowledge in order to attempt to explain why one recipe would use 1/2 a cup more sugar than another, or why some recipes use melted baking chocolate, and others use cocoa powder – and some use both. Admittedly, some of this comes down to personal preference, and may have more to do with flavor than food chemistry.
The first thing I needed to determine is whether one of the existing recipes I’d collected was already perfect. No need to reinvent the wheel. Naturally, this required a whole lot of taste testing of a whole lot of brownie recipes, but since I have no desire to become sick of my favorite baked good, I decided to be strategic about this. I made a table of ingredients, amounts and mixing methods so that I didn’t test a bunch of recipes that were basically identical.
In the interests of not falling into a diabetic coma, I started with only three recipes, linked below:
I selected these to start with because they had some similar ingredients – the same amount of butter and similar amounts of eggs, sugar, and flour – and they all cooked in an 8×8 pan at 350 degrees F.
The Urban Bakes recipe had excellent flavor, but had to bake longer than the requisite 40 minutes because they weren’t done – in fact, they never really solidified, even after cooling to room temperature. They remained fudgy to the point of liquid. Delicious, but maybe not quite what we’re looking for.
The Yellow Bliss Road brownies were dense and cakey, but again, the flavor was excellent. They browned a bit too much on the edges, but were done all the way through, unlike the Urban Bakes batch. And they cooked in the recommended amount of time. The texture left something to be desired, though – too cakey for me!
The Umami girl brownies had the best flavor – but that might be because I like my chocolate on the bitter side and this recipe has a little bit of coffee in it to bring that out. The texture, on the other hand, while not as cakey as the Yellow Bliss Road brownies, were too crumbly for my taste.
Note the textures of the sliced finished products:
So, did I find a winner for best one-bowl brownie in this batch?
But never fear, I have a plethora of recipes left to test, so stay tuned, and I’ll eventually get to testing all of them, if I don’t overdose on sugar first.