I made 5-minute, 30-minute, and 100-hour brownies, and I won't waste 4 days on a dessert again
- I tried recipes for 5-minute, 30-minute, and 100-hour brownies to see which one is really worth it.
- The 5-minute recipe tasted like the TV-dinner version of the classic dessert.
- The 100-hour recipe was initially intriguing, but I'll stick to making the classic 30-minute one.
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I always used to take the easy way out by making brownies from a boxed mix and upgrading them with fun mix-ins like caramel or Oreos.
But after testing some delicious recipes by celebrities and famous chefs, I'm much more interested in whipping up this dessert from scratch. So I followed the popular trend and tried a five-minute, 30-minute, and 100-hour brownie recipe to compare them all.
Read on to find out which recipe turned out the best.
I tested the 5-minute brownie first to see if it would satisfy a sudden craving
This recipe was appealing because it included super simple ingredients that I always keep in my pantry and fridge: butter, brown sugar, milk, vanilla extract, flour, cocoa powder, salt, and chocolate chips.
The process was as easy as I expected
I started by melting some butter in a mug and swirling it around to coat the sides since I'd be microwaving the brownie in it.
I poured this melted butter into a bowl and mixed in the other wet ingredients. Then in a separate bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients and added them to the wet mix, too.
Finally, I folded in the chocolate chips and poured the batter back into the mug.
I microwaved the brownie for one minute and 15 seconds, but it didn't look done yet, so I popped it back in for an extra 20 seconds.
This brownie tasted like it came from a frozen TV dinner
This brownie smelled just like a microwave meal and tasted like one, too.
This recipe would be nearly irredeemable without the optional chocolate chips. And the texture was very dry, so I understood why it recommended serving it with ice cream.
Overall, I'd prefer to take the extra time to have a proper brownie. But if I had a really strong hankering for chocolate and had ice cream to cover it in, I'd consider making the recipe again.
The 30-minute brownie looked like a slightly quicker version of my go-to
The first thing I noticed about this recipe from Flour Child was that it didn't require melting chocolate via a double broiler. It's a fairly easy task but one I always dread, so I was happy not to see it.
This recipe only required basic brownie ingredients that are combined in one pot on the stove before baking.
The recipe seemed easy at first, but things got a little messy
I started by melting butter in the pot on low heat before mixing in the cocoa powder. Then I removed the pot from heat and added the sugar and vanilla - which made the mixture suspiciously gritty.
Next, I added in the four eggs, mixing them one at a time until they were fully incorporated into the batter. I moved as quickly as possible with this step so that the eggs wouldn't start cooking in the warm pan.
After adding the eggs, the batter was very glossy and ready for the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and baking powder.
Although the pot I was using was pretty large, I still made a mess when I tried stirring in the flour. It poofed out of the top of the pot, over the side of the oven, and onto the floor.
This recipe called for a 9-by-13-inch pan, but mine was occupied by my 100-hour brownie batter (which I needed to start first). Instead, I divided the batter, putting some into an 8-by-8-inch pan and the rest in a small cast-iron skillet just to see what would happen.
These brownies turned out exactly how I like them
These were exactly what I think of when I conjure up the image of a classic brownie.
They had a flaky, lightly crisp top and a fudgy and dense (but not too dense) inside. There was also a rich chocolate flavor, but it wasn't overwhelming.
I did the incredibly hard work of taste-testing both an edge piece and a center one. I don't usually go for edge pieces because sometimes they're too tough to bite into, but these were actually great. The edges had a slight crunch but were still pretty soft.
They fell apart when I cut and pulled them from the pan even though I let them sit and cool for a couple of hours as directed. But the superior taste and texture made up for that.
The skillet experiment was also delicious. I baked it for less time because it was in a smaller container, but it had the same excellent taste and texture and came out of the skillet cleanly.
I definitely plan on making this recipe again, but I might mix everything in a stand mixer next time instead of in a pot on the stove.
The 100-hour brownies required a lot - and I mean a lot - of chocolate
I expected this time-consuming brownie recipe from Alvin Zhou to be incredibly rich because it called for espresso powder and coffee ice cubes to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.
And there was a whole lot of chocolate in this recipe. I had to scrounge up 17 and 1/2 ounces of chocolate bars plus a hefty amount of cocoa powder.
The ingredients, plus the enormous amount of chilling time, led me to believe these would be really dense and fudgy.
Most of the time was spent waiting around until I could eat the brownies
The first step was to brown a lot of butter on the stove before adding in espresso powder and a coffee ice cube. But the espresso powder I used didn't mix well into the hot butter - some of it turned into a tough, tar-like substance that stuck to the whisk.
I then mixed eggs, sugar, and vanilla in the stand mixer and added the cocoa powder, more espresso, salt, and the browned-butter mixture.
While that combined in the stand mixer, I melted 8 ounces of dark chocolate and stirred that in as well.
Finally, I poured in the flour and let the stand mixer do its thing while I chopped up more dark and milk chocolate pieces to fold into the batter.
I poured my batter into a 9-by-13-inch glass dish, topped it with even more chunks of dark chocolate, and left it to rest.
These required a few extra steps than classic brownies, but it wasn't too difficult. The real challenge was letting the batter rest in the fridge for three full days.
When I want brownies, I want them as soon as possible, so this was frustrating.
I was so excited to finally bake the brownies - until I figured out I had to let them rest again after
It's pretty criminal to make someone rest their brownies for three days before baking, but it's even worse knowing I have to put them in the fridge for another 24 hours after.
But for the sake of the experiment, I moved forward with the baking step.
I pulled the batter from the fridge and it was as hard as a rock and looked pretty dry.
Because I used a glass dish, I let the brownies sit on the counter for a couple of hours while they came close to room temperature before baking.
When going from cool to hot so quickly, glass has a higher risk of shattering, and I'd honestly be so annoyed if I lost these brownies to a shattered glass pan.
Because of the temperamental glass issue, I also skipped the freezing step (Zhou said to freeze the brownies for 30 minutes immediately after baking to lock in the moisture).
Instead, I let my brownies cool on the counter before moving them to the fridge to sit for another day.
After 100 hours of waiting for these brownies, I was disappointed with the results
These brownies were nearly impossible to cut out of the pan, even when I used a sharp, high-quality knife.
Once I finally got a brownie onto a plate, I noticed little balls of what looked like fat inside.
When I heated the brownie in the microwave, these little fatty bits pooled around the bottom, making it a little greasy.
As far as flavor goes, this was way too rich. I love chocolate. I love brownies. I even love the bitterness of dark chocolate and coffee. But this was too rich and bitter for me.
The texture, in addition to the greasiness, was also too dense.
I'm not opposed to trying this again, but I'd probably just let the batter sit for one day and then eat the brownies warm straight from the oven, which would make the recipe a long cry from 100 hours.
I think I'll stick to the 30-minute recipe to satisfy my brownie cravings from now on
Overall, the 30-minute brownies were by far the best. They had that classic brownie flavor and texture and really didn't take long to make.
I'll be returning to this recipe again and again, but I plan to make it in my stand mixer instead of going through the mess of mixing the ingredients on the stove.
If I was really desperate for a brownie and had some ice cream on hand to help mask the dry texture, I guess the five-minute version would suffice.
The final flavor and texture of the 100-hour brownie just weren't worth all of the time I invested into making them.
If I ever tried the 100-hour recipe again, I'd change several parts of the process. In addition to cutting down the resting time, I'd swap the browned butter for regular melted butter and maybe reduce the amount of chocolate because multiple full-sized bars seemed excessive to me.