It Lifts and Separates! Okay At Victoria's Secret, But Not In My Kitchen.

Earlier this month I saw a recipe in the Los Angeles Times Culinary SOS column that I knew I had to try: the brownie recipe from Boudin Bakery. I don't believe that there are any Boudin Bakeries on the east coast, but during my college years in Northern California, I did occasionally visit the Boudin Bakery outpost that used to be at the Stanford Mall. I ate a lot of chowder in a bread bowl, but I've never tried the brownie. However, the LA Times' Daily Dish food blog positively raved about the recipe and, well, let's face it -- I'm pretty much going to try any brownie recipe that ever turns up in the Culinary SOS column.

I do have to say that I was slightly put off by the photo that accompanied the recipe in the Times. To me, the brownies looked awful, as if they had been clumsily pulled apart with someone's bare hands. As someone who always uses a ruler to measure out my bars, and cleans and wipes the knife after every cut, I wouldn't be caught dead serving anything that looked like that. But maybe the food stylist was having a bad day?

These brownies gave off a wonderfully enticing chocolate aroma as they were baking. I had high hopes and was completely crestfallen when I pulled the finished brownies out of the oven and saw that the tops had lifted and separated from the base of the bars. This is one of my pet peeves with brownies. With some recipes, the bars will rise in the oven, and the top will form a crust that will separate from the base of the brownies as the base cools and recedes. I made two batches of brownies, and with one batch, the top completely separated in some areas, meaning that once then brownies were cut, the top layer just fell off. In the better looking batch, the separation wasn't complete in all areas, but the crumbly top caved in around all of the cuts I made into the bars (you can see some crumbling in the picture above, and it is quite evident in the picture accompanying the LA Times article featuring the recipe).

The brownies were moist and moderately fudgy, but to be honest, they were pretty average. The flavor wasn't all that interesting, and I think that the large amount of nuts called for the in the recipe is the only thing that saves it from complete mediocrity. The lack of flavor, combined with the lifts and separates problem, make this an easy recipe to walk away from. I really don't see what the hubbub is all about...

Recipe: Boudin Bakery's Brownies from the Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2009.