Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Brownies, a Failure

vegan brownie failure 1Once, I had a good vegan brownie. Once. It was my friend Megan’s birthday, and a bunch of ladies met at the Peninsula for high tea. The vegan offerings, while extremely appreciated in such a traditional setting, were hit or miss. The hits: tiny lemon-poppy-seed muffin tops, cranberry-chutney-and-arugula sandwiches, mushroom stacks with pesto. The misses: peanut butter muffins that tasted like freezer burn, under ripe strawberries covered in crunchy unremarkable chocolate, and anything involving tofu (watery parfaits, grainy cheesecake). But the brownies saved it all (well, those and the champagne). They were dense, moist, fudgy, with a crispy top, studded with tiny walnut bits. They were real brownies. They were everything a brownie should be, vegan or not.

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See, the problem (or I guess I should say problems) with vegan brownies is that the name usually holds no weight. They’re not brownies. They’re flat chocolate cake, too moist and fluffy. Or they’re square chocolate cookies, too dry and crumbly. They never seem to achieve that balance of gooey and firm, resisting and melty.

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So I decided, screw it, I’ll skip all of those inferior vegan brownie recipes and take my chances with a solid-sounding traditional one. Armed with Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet and a bar of Scharffen Berger 99% cacao unsweetened chocolate, I headed to the kitchen. For the seemingly manageable two eggs, I subbed some extra gooey flax goop and a bit of soy yogurt. I melted the chocolate with an unseemly amount of Earth Balance. I dutifully pre-toasted the walnuts. And everything seemed to be going well. The batter looked thick and fudgy and tasted amazing. But that’s when my luck ran out. The oven did little to turn my promising batter into the brownie perfection I was hoping for. It baked for the recommended thirty minutes. Definitely not brownies yet. That’s fine; vegan baked goods always seem to take a bit longer than their egg-laden counterparts. In they stayed for the additional five minutes the recipe said might be necessary. Hmmm. Is that a layer of wet, bubbly fat resting on top of the deep brown still-not-brownies? Another ten minutes. And another. And perhaps another. But then I gave up. By now I had a heavy chocolate brick, unappealingly caramelized on the bottom, covered in melted, unabsorbed margarine on the top.

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Maybe I’ll eventually overcome this utter baking disaster and go on to discover the perfect vegan brownie recipe, but it may be easier to set my sights on becoming a lady who lunches so I can spend many more afternoons sipping earl grey and nibbling on pastries at the Peninsula.

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