Browniefest part 11: Two recipes that I expected better from, by Moosewood and by Fritz Knipschildt

Now we come to two brownie recipes that were real disappointments to me. First up, from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts (ascribed to “The Moosewood Collective”, copyright owned by Vegetable Kingdom, Inc.; Clarkson Potter, 1997) are “Hazelnut Brownies” (p. 198), which were not bad, but not as good as I was expecting. The second recipe, from Fritz Knipschildt’s brand-new cookbook Chocopologie, was much worse. Both recipes suffered from the imprecision of not giving flour quantity by mass, but the difference (as much as 25% depending on how you measure) is far more apparent in the Knipschildt recipe, with three cups of flour, than in the Moosewood recipe with a more manageable half a cup.

Mise en place
Starting with the Moosewood “Hazelnut Brownies”, the ingredients here are fairly standard, except for the natural hazelnuts, which are sitting on a quarter-sheet pan waiting to be toasted. Moosewood uses the traditional (and now somewhat underwhelming) 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate; by this point I had run out of the TCHO unsweetened and instead used an unsweetened chocolate processed in Madagascar by Madécasse. The recipe calls for “white flour”, and according to notes elsewhere in this cookbook, they use this to indicate that either all-purpose or pastry flour will work, so I used pastry flour. Preparation is by procedure #2 (as described in part 2 of this series).

Ground hazelnuts pressed into pan bottom
After the hazelnuts are toasted, the skins are removed by hand, using a towel, although the recipe doesn’t require that the nuts be completely clean. Then the nuts are finely ground in a food processor, and then pressed into the bottom of the prepared 8×8 baking pan. My food processor was not able to get the nuts fine enough to express much of their oil, and as a result the bottom crust did not hold together well — if I had been doing this on my own, I would probably have added some sugar and melted butter, like a crumb crust, to bind the hazelnuts together. (Or even better, mixed the ground hazelnuts into the ganache topping!)

Chilled brownies with chocolate-chip glaze
After baking and cooling the brownies, a ganache is spread on top and then the brownies are chilled to set the topping. The recipe says “chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips”, and since my stock of Callebaut 54% was reserved for another recipe, I used Guittard 63% bittersweet chocolate chips. Unfortunately, this chocolate did not react all that nicely to refrigeration, leading to the unsightly bloom shown in the photo above. It didn’t really affect the taste, however.

With one brownie removed, showing internal texture
Of course I ate a serving. You can see clearly in this cross-section the ground-hazelnut bottom crust, the brownie cake itself, and then on top, the ganache topping (which this recipe calls a “glaze”); I wonder if it would have been better whipped, as is usually done for ganache-based frosting.

Ground hazelnuts left behind after portioning
After portioning, a significant amount of the hazelnut crust was left on the cutting board. This makes me think that the recipe could be improved significantly by making the bottom crumb-crust-style rather than just pressing ground nuts into the pan.

Mise en place for brownies
Fritz Knipschildt is a well-known Connecticut-based chocolatier, and for a while he operated a cafe attached to his production facility. For that reason, I had high hopes for “Fritz’s Fudgy Brownies” (Chocopologie, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015; p. 36), but the results were less than splendid. As I noted in the introduction, the recipes in this book give no hint as to the quantity of flour in a “cup”, and that can vary by as much as 25% depending on how you measure — and when a recipe calls for three whole cups of flour, 25% is quite a lot. For recipes like this, I usually assume that the recipes were tested with 5-ounce cups (the result of the “dip and sweep” method, which packs more flour into a measure than spooning), but that turned out to be a mistake. One unusual feature of this recipe, which I actually really wanted to try out, was its use of raisins as an optional alternative to the traditional walnuts, so I might do this recipe again with 4-ounce cups just to see if it comes out any better. The chocolate here is 6 ounces of Callebaut 54% semisweet (the recipe, oddly, calls for “semisweet or bittersweet”) in the brownie proper, and an equal amount of the same chocolate in the ganache topping. (In a redo I would use a higher-strength chocolate, since Knipschildt doesn’t seem to think it matters, and I prefer stronger chocolate flavors — but I’d expect the effect of the flour to dominate anyway.) I used leftover extra-large eggs, figuring that there was enough flour here to absorb the extra liquid (and boy, was there).

Brownies cooling in pan
The dough — it’s much too stiff to be called “batter” — is assembled using procedure #2 (as described in part 2 of this series); I had to press it into the pan using my hands to get it sufficiently even for baking, and you can see the result even after baking. Good thing it was going to get covered by a ganache!

Mise en place for ganache
Unusually, Knipschildt’s ganache calls for a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of butter in addition to the usual cream and chocolate. As noted above, the chocolate is another 6 ounces of Callebaut 54% semisweet.

Brownies in cross-section
After spreading the ganache on top and allowing it to set, I cut myself a serving (and of course portioned the rest of the bar as well). You can see from this cross-section how pale the crumb of this brownie looks — even compared to the relatively low-strength ganache frosting on top. So too was the taste: not nearly as chocolaty as it ought to have been for the amount of chocolate used, since it was diluted so much by the flour.

Evaluation results

Unsurprisingly, “Fritz’s Fudgy Brownies” scored poorly across the board, with ratings below average (n=5) for all categories except “topping”, and a 2.7 (on a 1–5 scale) for “overall impression”. Moosewood’s “Hazelnut Brownies”, despite the issues with the bottom crust and the bloom in the ganache topping, scored significantly better, with 3.5 overall (n=6), landing in ninth place despite a below-average showing in the “moistness/mouth feel” category. Neither recipe received any “favorites”.


Neither of these recipes contain any added salt, and as a result, qualify as “A Very Low Sodium Food” under FDA regulations. They could probably have used some.

Hazelnut Brownies

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: one 2″x2″ square (46g)
Servings per recipe: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 237 Calories from fat 153
% Daily Value
Total Fat 17g 26%
 Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Potassium 101mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
 Dietary fiber 3g 12%
 Sugars 13g
Proteins 3g 7%
Vitamin A 4%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2%
Iron 11%

Fritz’s Fudgy Brownies

Reflects the use of 15 oz of flour, Callebaut 55% semisweet chocolate block, and extra-large eggs. Your mileage will certainly vary.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: one 2″x2″ square (100g)
Servings per recipe: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 443 Calories from fat 162
% Daily Value
Total Fat 18g 28%
 Saturated Fat 12g 59%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 33mg 1%
Potassium 103mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 63g 21%
 Dietary fiber 2g 10%
 Sugars 37g
Proteins 6g 11%
Vitamin A 5%
Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 2%
Iron 24%
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