Battle of the Brownies

Although I must say, it wasn’t much of a contest.  Last year I tried Ina’s “Outrageous Brownies” for the first time after hearing repeatedly how wonderful they were.  I made them for a classmate’s birthday, individually packaged with cute little bows, and gave them to my friends in class.  All my friends took them home to eat later….and later that day I opened my email to find a message from each of the four friends saying how amazing the brownies were.  Now that is a good recipe.  I made them again this weekend and even my dad who is really not a sweet tooth could not eat just one at a time.

In a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I came across a recipe for “Classic Brownies”.  I didn’t think anything could beat Ina’s brownies, but if someone could, it would be Cook’s Illustrated – so I decided to give it a shot.  I guess I should have known from the start that these brownies wouldn’t be my kind of brownie.  The first line of the associated article reads, “These days if you go to a bakery and order a brownie, chances are you’ll end up with a heavy chunk of pure confection.”  As if this were a bad thing.  Huh?

I must say, Ina’s brownies are far and away the winner with me.  I have slightly adapted the recipe (halving it, omitting walnuts and adding more chocolate chips).  What was wrong with the CI brownies?  I thought they were dry and definitely not sweet enough.  I tried them with milk and with ice cream, but nothing made me like them more.  Frosting might help but I didn’t even bother.  Sadly, I must say I think I would prefer almost any box mix brownie to these.  I know I’m not quite advertising these here, but just in case you feel compelled to make them, you can find the recipe here.  Erin obviously enjoyed them so maybe they’re not all bad.

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies


2 sticks unsalted butter

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate

3 extra-large eggs

1 ½ tbsp. instant coffee powder

1 tbsp. real vanilla extract

1 cup and 2 tbsp. sugar

½ cup and 2 tbsp. flour, divided – ½ cup for batter and 2 tbsp. .in the chips

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups morsels (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or butterscotch)


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13” metal pan. 

Melt together the butter, 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler.  Cool slightly.  Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.



Stir together ½ cup of the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss the chocolate chips with 2 tbsp. flour to coat.  Then add to the chocolate batter.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean.  Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Do not overbake!  Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares. 

Source: adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter, 1999

14 Responses

  1. That’s great to know! I’ll have to make this recipe next time I get a request for brownies from DH! 🙂

  2. Awesome idea. I love Ina’s brownies and haven’t found a recipe I like more. I do have the CI ones bookmarked but after your review I think I’ll probably skip them. You can even tell from the picture that they are more cakey and don’t look as chocolatey.

  3. I’ve made both, and agree, Ina’s are better! I made her brownies with oreo chunks in them, and they were to die for!

  4. I make Ina’s brownies all the time; they’re consistently delicious. I also had looked at making the CI brownies, but like Chelle I think I’ll leave them alone and stick with Ina’s.

  5. I don’t think there’s anything that brings more smiles to peoples’ faces than good brownies. I have yet to find an “Ina” recipe I didn’t like.

  6. Although I enjoyed the Cook’s Illustrated brownies, I agree with you that Ina’s brownies kick butt! It’s hard to beat the Barefoot Contessa 🙂

  7. Thanks for the comparison, Annie. I’ve made the CI brownies several times and really liked them. If you say Ina’s are better, though, I will definitely give them a whirl.

  8. You can never go wrong with any of Ina’s recipes:D

  9. i REALLY need to try ina’s recipe; i can’t seem to find anyone who doesn’t like them! beautiful presentation w/the bows 🙂

  10. […] I found on Annie’s Eats blog a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network. Her post was great, because she compared two brownie […]

  11. So weird that you thought CI’s brownies were too dry. I thought mine were too fudgy! I’m gonna try Ina’s recipe. I’ve seen it in THREE of my cookbooks (not Ina’s books, but the writers give her the credit)!

  12. I so totally agree – I love CI, and worship most of their recipes, but not their brownie one! Ina’s brownies are one of my fave brownie recipes, but they recently got beat out (in my book) by Nick Malgieri’s Supernatural Brownies. Those things are amazing! Talk about a hunk of confectionery magic! Here’s a link if you’d like the recipe –

    P.S. – I found your website through Tastespotting yesterday and am scanning through your archives. I think you might be my hero! You have so many amazing recipes!!

  13. Hi Annie, I really want to make these brownies, I have all the ingredients except the instant coffee. Could I get away without using this ingredient?

    I really love your website, and you have a beautiful family!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: