Brownie Tasteoff, Round 3: Fruity Brownies

When I originally conceived of the idea for the brownie tasteoff, I planned to have 16 brownies competing in four different brackets.  But when it came to the fruity bracket, I just couldn't narrow it down to four, and so I made an exception and had five brownies competing in this round.  Granted, I also gave myself a little leeway in deciding what fell into the category of "fruity."  Here is a picture of the line up.

As was the case with the previous tasteoff rounds of classic brownies and superfudgy brownies, tasters were asked to sample all five fruity brownies, rank them in order of preference from 1-5 (with 1 being best), and also assign them a numerical score from 1-10 (with 10 being best).

Brownie A was the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Toffee and Dried Cherries from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen.  While I've always thought it's hard to detect the toffee bits (in this case, Heath Bar Baking Bits) in the final product, the chewy texture of the dried cherries is unmistakable, and chocolate chunks also add texture to these brownies.  Several tasters commented that the brownies could use more toffee, or that the cherries overpowered the toffee.  Many weighed in favorably on the pairing of chocolate with cherries generally.  Others remarked that the chocolate flavor of this brownie was not particularly prominent.

Brownie B was the orange-chocolate Midnight Chocolate Brownie Bite from the Los Angeles Times test kitchen.  I've occasionally had some problems baking this brownie before, and unfortunately, it happened to me again this time.  While normally this brownie flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier and studded with mini chocolate chips has a moist melt-in-your-mouth texture, this batch of brownies came out very dense and hard.  I decided to serve them anyway, even though I knew this particular batch did not properly represent the recipe's potential.  There were many complaints about the brownie being dry and having a chalky texture.  Several tasters professed a general dislike for the combination of chocolate and orange.  Others complained that the brownie was too orangey.  I feel bad that I wasn't able to showcase these brownies at their best.

Brownie C was the Ginger Brownie from Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor.  This brownie contains ginger preserved in syrup, and the flavor combination elicited quite varied responses from tasters.  Some tasters felt that it was too gingery, with others felt that the ginger flavor was too mild.  A few commented that the ginger-chocolate flavor combination was "interesting."  Many tasters complimented this brownie's fudgy texture.  

Brownie D was the Fudgy-Chocolate Raspberry Bar from, with raspberry preserves in both the bar and the glaze.  While the recipe title refers to these as bars and not brownies, they always turn out superfudgy, and so I have always considered them to be a brownie.  I have made this bar countless times, and in this one instance, for the first time ever, I got something that resembled moist chocolate cake instead of a superfudgy brownie (maybe trying to make five brownies at once instead of just four for this round of the tasteoff resulted in baker error for Brownies B and D).  Despite the fact that these did not come out the way I intended, they were generally well received (except for numerous comments that these were too cakey -- which, of course, they were).  Many tasters professed an affinity for the combination of raspberry and chocolate.  While many specifically singled out the raspberry-chocolate glaze for praise, others thought it was gratuitous.

Brownie E was the Mint Brownie from  I always make these without nuts, although the recipe calls for pecans.  Several tasters favorably commented that these brownies evoke the flavor of an Andes mint.  Many noted that mint and chocolate together were a favorite flavor combination.  However, multiple tasters complained that the brownie was too minty or that the chocolate flavor in this brownie was not prominent enough. 

And the winner of the fruity round is... Well, I'm going to have to call this round a tie.  Voting was more scattershot than in the previous two rounds of the tasteoff, and there was no clear winner.  Looking at rankings (where a lower rank is better), Brownie A, the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Toffee and Dried Cherries (average rank 2.51) just barely nudged out Brownie E, the Mint Brownie (average rank 2.53), to take first place.  However, with regard to average score on a scale of 1-10 (where a higher score is better), the Mint Brownie (average score 7.32) beat out the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Toffee and Dried Cherries (average score 7.01).  In the addition, the Mint Brownie was actually ranked first by the most tasters (14 out of 47, compared to only 12 who ranked the Toffee and Dried Cherry Brownie first).

Coming in third was the Fudgy-Chocolate Raspberry Bar (average score 6.81), followed by the Ginger Brownie (average score 6.11), with the orange-flavored Midnight Brownie Bite coming in last (average score 5.83).  Because voting was essentially a dead heat between Brownie A and Brownie E, I decided it was only fair to advance both of the them to the final round of the tasteoff. 

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Louise said…
Good choice of recipes. I've made D & E and look forward to making A since I recently got a used copy of the book. I've had A flagged and plan to use SKOR bars. :-) I guess you overbeat D, but I'm sure the flavors were still great. Too much pressure trying to make five. I hope your judges know how lucky they are.