Snubbing Betty Crocker

Confession: I’m a baked goods snob.

I think it stems from my upbringing.  Mom might not have been the most adventurous cook, but she can bake circles around most people.  Pretty much every Saturday there were fresh buns, bread, and either cookies, bars or caramel rolls.  I got spoiled.

I feel bad about it sometimes.  We go to restaurants, and when we order a dessert (which is rare), we’re pretty much always disappointed at its processed taste.

Everyone raved about Sweet Martha’s cookies at the MN State Fair, and we thought they were, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), probably a 2 or a 3.  They were warm, and that was about their only redeeming quality.

I made these bars, about which people all over the Internets were raving, and I didn’t think they were very good (again, because they were made with mixes).  That said, brownies are the one thing I rarely make from scratch, just because I have yet to find a homemade recipe that produces the density and sweetness I like.  If you have a recipe (unfrosted!) you think fits the bill, let me know!

If I’m going to spend 300 calories on a cookie, I want that cookie to be worth it, you know what I mean?  I don’t want Chips Ahoy!, which taste like chemicals.

Does this translate to other foods?  Somewhat, but not as much.  I enjoy a handful of Cheetos as much as the next person, and though I love to make homemade pasta, I’m usually too lazy to do so.

Do you have an area where you expect nothing less than the best?  It doesn’t have to be food.  I’m also brand-loyal when it comes to my running shoes…

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12 thoughts on “Snubbing Betty Crocker

  1. Seasonings. I love Tex Joy Seasonings – http://www.texjoy.com I won’t (hardly) settle for anything else.

    Coach purses. Call me a purse snob, but I love Coach purses. And, strangely enough, it’s only been within the last 4 years that I’ve carried Coach purses, but now, I have four of them (thanks to an awesome Coach outlet near my house!)

    Le Creuset cookware. Love it. I got an entire set from a friend years ago. (She had two complete sets… imagine that!) Knowing what I know now about it, I would never buy stainless again!

  2. I’m totally with you on the baking thing. It’s self-induced though, because (sorry Mom) I think I bake better thank my mom. Because I take the time. She likes to get stuff done quick “because there are mouths to feed, people to see and places to go man.”

    The best brownies I’ve had are the boxed Ghirardelli brownies. I’ve tried from scratch once and they were just okay. I’m scarred because all the “from scratch” brownies I had growing up were cake-like and I’m sorry, that’s not a brownie…that’s cake. Ewww.

    I’m not really brand loyal about anything except for my Lodge iron skillet. Does anyone else make iron skillets anymore? And maybe Carter’s onesies. They are the most durable.

  3. I’d been on the hunt for the best brownie recipe for a while. I think I have found (and tweaked) my master recipe, at least for brownies using cocoa powder. I don’t always have good, fresh chocolate on hand but I always have cocoa.

    Chewy Brownies
    1 cup butter, melted
    1 1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon instant espresso/coffee powder
    3 eggs (I tried 4 but they kept turning out on the cakey side)
    1 1/4 cup flour
    1 cup cocoa powder (I use dutch processed)
    1 teaspoon salt

    Let eggs come to room temperature.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13″ pan.

    In large bowl, melt butter; add sugars, vanilla, and espresso powder. Let cool.

    Stir in 1 egg at a time; don’t over-beat.

    Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt. Gradually and gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

    Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven – keep an eye on it! Mine bakes quickly.) Don’t over bake at all. Let cool a couple minutes before cutting.

  4. Here is another recipe for you to try. Cook’s Illustrated magazine (I love them!!) came out with their version of the chewy brownie. They were looking to replicate the texture of a boxed brownie without the chemical taste. They use oil in place of some of the butter to achieve this. I haven’t tried it yet but let me know what you think if you decide to make it.

    Cook’s Illustrated Chewy Brownies

    1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
    2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 large eggs
    2 large egg yolks
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups sugar
    1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon table salt
    6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

    1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Referring to directions in Making a Foil Sling (related), make sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

    3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

    4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

  5. I too, think I have an awesome brownie recipe. I’ve made them for small group before, but I don’t know if you’ve had them or not. If you’ve had them and they aren’t your favorite I’m not offended. If you haven’t, let me know and I’ll make them for group sooner than later. In the meantime, here is the link: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Fudgy-Brownies-2

  6. Tara beat me to it but that Cook’s Illustrated brownie recipe is awesome! The article in the March 2010 issue that explains the science behind what makes a brownie chewy and shiny on top was really interesting (if you’re a geeky food science dork like me!) The brownies are REALLY good! The best scratch brownies I’ve ever made and not at all cakey. The recipe says to make sure the pan cools well and I have to agree. They were even better on day 2, which happens to be today and I just finished one…they won’t last long at our house!

  7. I’ve got a brownie recipe somewhere that’s darn yummy, but it looks like you’ve got several to try already.
    I’m am SUCH a baked goods snob. Particularly when it comes to cookies. I was looking at a very popular cooking blog today and the post was for some sort of chocolate chip cookies. They looked AWFUL. Flat and lacking in flour. Ugh. If mine ever turned out that way, I’d probably toss them.
    That said, I am NOT a snob about pretty much any other food. If somebody else is going to cook it for me, I’m not likely to complain. 🙂
    What brand of runners do you wear? I’m in dire need of new ones; my NB’s aren’t that old but they are killing my feet.

  8. You’ve probably already tried and love a few of these: but my favorite brownie recipe is here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/fudge-brownies-recipe
    Now, I highly recommend using good, dark cocoa powder. The first time I made these, I didn’t have quite enough chocolate chips, so I added a couple of dark chocolate raspberry Hershey’s kisses, which got all melty and added a lovely raspberry essence. I usually take them out a couple of minutes early (because I like them a leetle bit gooey, not uncooked, just ooey, gooey, delicious). After removing from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a table knife to prevent the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool.

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