What Do You Get When You Add Cake to a Brownie?: Pound Cake Brownies

I've tried a few brownie-chocolate chip cookie hybrids, and I haven't found one yet that is as good as, much less an improvement on, a quality brownie or cookie on its own. But I was interested in trying Buttermilk by Sam's Pound Cake Brownies because I figured that a cake and brownie might pair together better than a brownie and a cookie. At least cake batter and brownie batter are much closer to each other in texture and consistency than cookie batter and brownie batter.

To make the pound cake batter, you beat softened butter with sugar, vanilla, and salt until very light and fluffy; add an egg; and add flour and sour cream (I added them alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, even though the recipe says to add them together). For the brownie batter, I whisked melted butter with sugar and Dutch cocoa powder; let the mixture cool slightly before adding in eggs, salt, and vanilla; folded in sifted flour, and incorporated dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 2815 callets). 

I poured half of the brownie batter into a parchment-lined pan; added dollops of the cake batter on top; dropped the remaining brownie batter around the cake batter; and swirled the batters together. The swirling step was difficult, because the cake batter was quite stiff and it was much thicker than the brownie batter (you can see this just by looking at the photos illustrating the recipe steps). My efforts to pull brownie batter through the cake batter mostly succeeded in just dragging intact blobs of cake batter around the pan. But I did the best I could before putting the brownies in the oven.
I thought the finished bars looked great, and they somehow managed to have a good distribution of pound cake throughout. But they did not have a good distribution of pound cake flavor. For the most part, these brownies just tasted like... brownies. A rich, chocolatey, moderately fudgy, very good brownie -- but still just a brownie nonetheless. There were a few rare bites -- those that happened to be almost entirely pound cake -- where could you register the rich vanilla flavor of the cake and its distinct texture. But for the most part, the brownie just drowned out the cake.

I was still happy with the results because as I said, the brownies tasted great. But I can't say that this pound cake-brownie hybrid is greater than the sum of its parts. And those parts are wildly unequal; the pound cake's flavor is subtracted from the sum to the point that it is hardly detectable. However, the pound cake does make for a pretty swirl and I wouldn't turn down a slice of these brownies, so I still consider the recipe a success.

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