October 3, 2012

That "Fat Witch"

I'm not calling anyone "fat" or a "witch"; I'm talking about brownies!  And I wanted to try this recipe because Fat Witch brownies have bewitched me for years.  They just might be my favorite brownies of all time though I'm a little confused when it comes to the exact reasons why.
Years ago, I was drawn into the Fat Witch Bakery in Chelsea Market by not only the general promise of brownies but also by their adorable name and packaging.  And I was hooked after the first bite of my free sample.  There is something about those Fat Witches!  It's odd because I actually find it hard to describe their flavor.  It's not a chocolaty brownie.  For me, the appeal is their dense, moist, fudgy texture combined with this delicious, rich butter-chocolate-vanilla flavor.  I like to describe it as this alluring "vanilla" flavor but I think maybe it's some magic potion of butter, chocolate, and vanilla swirled together.

I've tried their boxed mix in an effort to get my Fat Witch "fix" at home.  Those taste pretty similar to the actual ones from the bakery but not quite, and they somehow have a boxed mix taste (or aftertaste) to them, in my opinion.  Then...a couple of years ago, the Fat Witch Brownies cookbook came out.  Some of the reviews were pretty harsh (and the negative reviews stay with you, don't they).  Some people said the recipe simply does not produce the brownies you buy from the store.  Plenty of people raved about them too.
Mixed results.  After trying the recipe myself, I'd have to say the homemade version was not as good as the ones from the bakery.  Whether that is because the bakery uses superior ingredients and a more expert hand or if this is not actually the exact recipe, I can't say.  What I do know is mine seemed like a paler version of the real thing.  But that doesn't mean it wasn't good.  It was quite tasty but I'm not sure the final result is enough motivation for me to go into the kitchen and make this particular recipe that calls for so much butter (and sugar), if given other options.  The recipe uses a solid 1 3/4 sticks of butter for a 9" square pan's worth of brownies.  And you use chocolate chips, just 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons worth.

As I mentioned, the Fat Witch brownies are not intensely chocolaty in flavor (unlike the Scharffen Berger brownies, for example) but the batch I made from scratch had even less chocolate flavor than I expected.  Texturally, the true center of the brownies came out dense, moist, and fudgy - as I hoped they would be - but the sides or edges were more on the cakey side (there are 4 eggs in this recipe).  Maybe the recipe doesn't translate well on a small scale?
A couple scoops of homemade caramel ice cream to accompany my Fat Witch brownie
In the end, I ended up with a somewhat "watered-down", albeit still good, version of the actual thing.  I suppose I could try to tweak the recipe (by adding more chocolate, more espresso powder than what I already used to amp up the chocolate flavor, and maybe reducing the amount of eggs) if there were not so many other delicious brownie recipes out there to bake and eat.

To be sure, I'll still be drawn to the real thing, those little Fat Witches chanting my name whenever I visit Chelsea Market...they are definitely good witches.

As you'll see from the recipe below, the Fat Witch brownies are easy to put together.  Just learn from my mistake and don't use a whisk to mix the sugar and egg mixture together.  It incorporated too much air (even without vigorous whisking) into the batter and resulted in some unsightly holes on the surface of my brownies and - even worse - air pockets at the bottom.
Just lightly blend the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and bake the batter in a 9-inch square pan.
The recipe calls for buttering and flouring the baking pan.  I like to grease the pan, line it with a piece of parchment with overhang on 2 sides, then grease the paper itself, for easy removal.
My brownies were done in roughly 25 minutes.  Keep a watch on them so they don't over-bake and turn out more cakey than fudgy.
Learn from my mistake and don't whisk the batter at any point - you'll get air bubbles and air pockets in your brownies.


Fat Witch Brownies
Adapted from the Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

- One 9 inch square pan -

1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips*
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped, toasted, nuts (optional)

*Recipe says you can also use 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and add an extra 1/3 cup of sugar.

Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with a piece of parchment paper, allowing for about 2-inches of overhang on two sides.  Butter the parchment paper (not overhang).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, chocolate chips, and espresso powder (if using) in a heatproof bowl  set over a pan of just simmering water.  Set aside and let cool.

Stir sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl using a wooden spoon.  Add cooled chocolate mixture and stir until just combined.  Sift flour and salt into the chocolate mixture and blend until dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips or nuts, if using.

Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a bit of moist crumbs attached.  This takes roughly 25 to 33 minutes (on the lower end for me).

Remove from the oven, let cool on a wire rack for about an hour before lifting the brownies from the pan and cutting.


  1. That's a shame that the recipe doesn't give the same result. If they're going to share the recipes, they should share the proper ones. I appreciate the businesses that do give the correct ones. Some places I like the food but can't get to, and it gives a way of getting the food just the same.

  2. I wish the recipe yielded the same brownies from the bakery too! I can give them the benefit of the doubt and figure they use some sort of special chocolate chips and butter but I still think the measurements are a little off or something. Maybe they're also better/different made in big batches. At the bakery, I think they bake them in big sheet pans and they cut off the edges.

  3. I just bought that cookbook, and I wish I did not. If these bakers expect for us to purchase their cookbooks for REAL MONEY, then they need to give out the REAL RECIPE.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...