Friday, May 15

Dark Chocolate Brownies

I like dark chocolate. Not the insane 60%+ stuff, the turn your face inside-out bitter kind. Sure, all you chocolate snobs, take your shots now, as I say, "I like Hershey's." I also like brownies, and math. Let's combine the three and do an experiment, shall we?

Okay, so here's what you're looking at: Alton Brown's cocoa brownie recipe from the Food Network, and a bunch of math. A little digging around shows that the average milk chocolate has 10% cocoa solids, and what gets marketed as the average dark chocolate has 35% cocoa solids. If you look at the total of sugar plus cocoa powder, there's 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder and a total of 2 cups of sugar (1 granulated, 1 brown.) This gives us a 5:8 ratio of cocoa:sugar, with a total volume of 3 1/4 cups (or 13/4 cups, for those of us who are weird and like bigger fractions so we don't have to convert them on the fly.) Given that dark chocolate has 35% cocoa to milk chocolate's 10%, the amount of cocoa needs to 3.5 times what it normally is, so the ratio gets upped to 17.5:8, a little more than 2:1. Given that the total number of units in the original recipe was 13, I figured that fudging the math (har har) to a 9:4 would give me the just-over-2:1 ratio that I need.

tl;dr: That means the recipe now calls for 2 1/4 cups of cocoa powder and 1 cup of sugar, divided as 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown.

I cut the recipe in half all the way across the board. This was an experiment; if it failed spectacularly, I didn't want to get stuck with an 8x8 pan of something I couldn't eat. So we go with a 4x9 loaf pan:

First observation: the batter is thick. Thicker than your average brownie batter. It also looked like it was pulling en masse away from the sides of the buttered and floured pan, so at least I was pretty confident it wouldn't stick.

Second observation: It was heavy. Heavier than you'd expect something of that size to weigh. But it looked a little spongy, not unlike the underside of your normal brownie. Flip it over... know, it looks... just like it did before it went in the oven. That's a total headscratcher.

Well, this explains why the thing was so heavy: it's dense. I see next to no air bubbles, next to no leavening. And while it tastes like dark chocolate, it's got this slightly dry, slightly grainy texture to it. Removing large hunks of sugar from the recipe probably hurt it, so it's back to the drawing board to figure out how to moisten this brick.


Warmonger Smurf said...

Huh. Fascinating. That's one dense-ass looking brownie.

Bayani said...

Actually, I just looked up a "Special Dark" Hershey's bar in the grocery store today, and it's 45% cocoa. There's a lot of tinkering to be done before this is a workable recipe.