Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Cookie Salon | 0 comments

Brownie Salon

What is a Cookie Salon?

Date: August 16, 2011

Attendees: Beth S., Brooke M., Giovanna Z., Beth C., Scott B., Sarah V.B., Joanna M.

Left to Right:

1. David Lebovitz, gluten free (from – Joanna

2. Alice Medrich (from Chewy, Gooey Crispy, Crunchy) – Giovanna

3. Food and Wine Magazine Salted Fudge Brownie – Brooke

4. From Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg, CA) – Beth C.

5. Beth’s Friend Jen’s recipe, gluten free – Beth S.

Scott  and Sarah were not able to bake this month.  But they showed up anyway -to taste and both glean and offer cookie thoughts. This is totally acceptable and encouraged in the rules of Cookie Salon (where, by the way, there are no rules).


1. David Lebovitz’ gluten free.  The original (non gluten-free) version of this recipe called for 1/4 cup of flour, which is what originally drew me to it.  Less flour = more chocolate taste and less cakeyness, major virtues in a brownie, IMO (this is a divisive issue, indeed).  And what further attracted me to this was that instead of the typical gluten flour substitutes such as garbanzo, rice, soy, sorghum, etc., this one used a mixture of cornstarch and cocoa powder.  I love that cocoa powder can stand in for flour – which makes it the obvious perfect choice when making a g.f. brownie.

Comments: dark, moist, almost like a truffle.  (Someone said “fudge”, but I disagree. It totally didn’t have that sandy/candy fudge texture (which I love, but this was not that). Also : “I would make this sort of brownie to include on a cookie plate as a gift during the holidays – it seems more decadent than a pedestrian, everyday brownie.”

Baker’s (i.e., my) note: I took a few of these out of the freezer just today – a week after baking them – and they are even better now than on the first day. Not to boast.

2. Alice Medrich  These ones, like the #4 brownie (see below) both had that very thin outer crust on top with a very moist, fudgy center.  Although nobody used a recipe from this book, I brought along my copy of Cookwise by food scientist Shirley Corriher.  In it, she explains exactly what that crust is and how to achieve it (or avoid it, for that matter). The crust, it turns out, is what results when you beat the eggs thoroughly after adding them to the batter, as opposed to simply stirring them in just until they are incorporated.  Basically, if you really beat the eggs, what you are creating is a meringue.  And that thin top crust that you sometimes see on top of brownies is this meringue. I never knew.

3. Food and Wine Magazine.  Definitely the most cakey in the bunch. Brooke was bummed about the way her brownies turned out and called herself “the dunce” of the group, but she shouldn’t be so hard on herself.  True, they are far more bready than what I look for in a brownie.  But one of the key purposes of Cookie Salon is to LEARN stuff: what is the result when you use more of one thing and less of another, for example.  In the case at hand, what happens when you use 1/4 cup of flour in an 8×8 pan compared to using an entire cup for the same size pan as in Brooke’s recipe?  And what happens when you use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder?  Or both?  Or 2 eggs compared to 5 eggs?  The Food and Wine recipe, for example, used 6 oz LESS chocolate than the GF David Lebovitz recipe, but 6 oz (TWICE as much) of butter.  Even though you will never see me campaigning for cakey brownies,  I’m glad that Brooke made these because they really do offer a good point of reference on the wide spectrum of brownies.  Which, in the end, caused me learn way more about brownies than I knew just the day before.

4. Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg.  These are the ones on the left in the top photo. Again, the top crust.  See comments under #3. Very flavorful, moist.  Great texture.

5. Beth’s Friend Jen.  These were somehow cakey without being dry. Rice flour in lieu of all purpose flour. Great texture and a bit of a crispy shell, but less intense chocolate flavor than 1, 2 + 4.

Next Cookie Salon:  BLONDIES!  Stay tuned.