Zen; Or The Art Of Ayurvedic Brownie Making


Like the enduring search for a suitable mate, a good brownie is similarly hard to find.

There are fluffy brownies, cakey brownies, nutty brownies and frosted brownies.  There are chunky brownies, sweet brownies, crispy brownies and chewy brownies.  There are more kinds of brownies than there are hours in the day, and for my money, most of them are not worth the bother.  I’ve had success with Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies in the past, but every once in a while I get a craving for something just a little bit different…

To my mind, brownies are the ideal candidate for simplicity.  I don’t want nuts, frosting, M&M’s or candy mix-ins.  And I most certainly don’t want them swirled with cheesecake or peanut butter or any other heavy viscous substance.  When I take that first bite, I want the top to shatter in a mixture of crunchy, caramelized chewy delight, while the interior should be rich without being dense or cakey.

In short, I’m looking for a brownie miracle.

Months ago, when I finally located some 100 Mysteries tea, I’d found it a fantastic ingredient to experiment with.  It made its way into a panna cotta, and I’d intended to try additional applications, but other projects got in the way.  This weekend, I finally managed to pick up where I left off by producing a batch of 100 Mysteries brownies.

Three things were required to guarantee success;


1 – start with an amazing brownie recipe and high quality ingredients

Buttered Tea

2- steep the tea blend in molten butter to extract maximum aroma with minimum disruption

Batter's Up

3- use a pan conducive to brownies

So, to demystify that a little further, I began by selecting Alice Medrich’s brownie recipe on Epicurious as my base.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe, but used organic flour, eggs, sugars and homemade vanilla extract, with a generous helping of Dutch process cocoa for the batter.  Secondly, I melted down the butter, heated it until it was blazing hot, then turned off the heat, dumped my tea into a jelly bag, and let it steep in a covered pot for half an hour.  Once it was finished resting, I squeezed out every last drop of heavenly scented buttery goodness.  Next, I used what I think is an even better idea than this silly edge brownie pan, the crumbcake pan.  Not only do you still get edges on every brownie with a crumbcake pan, but they’re easier to remove because each indentation is lined with a removable metal bottom.  On top of that, the crumbcake pan is multi-use and only cost me $15, while the edge brownie runs a cool $45.  Sorry, but I don’t make brownies often enough for that to be a worthwhile investment in either space or dollars.

If you like unadulteratedly chocolatey brownies, then these will probably be right up your alley.  However, if you’re one of those “bells and whistles” types, these might not be for you, though I’d still encourage you to try them just once, to see how delightful an occasional lack of embellishment can be.

Foodie’s 100 Mysteries Brownies

10 tbsp unsalted butter

1 c. white sugar

0.25 c. brown sugar

0.25 c. 100 Mysteries tea (or any tea blend you like; this would be equally good with Earl Grey I think)

0.75 c. plus 2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa

0.25 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

0.5 c. flour

Preheat oven to 325* and grease all sides of the crumbcake pan with butter wrappers or oil.

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat until bubbling and frothy.  Remove from heat, pour tea leaves into a jelly bag or cheesecloth and tie off, steeping in the butter, covered for half an hour.  Afterwards, remove the tea leaves and squeeze out remaining butter, bringing temperature back up to a simmer.  Combine the sugars, cocoa, and salt with the butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy.  Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then stir in vanilla and eggs until well blended.  Add flour and beat vigorously for 40 strokes.  Spoon batter into prepared crumbcake pan.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean but slightly moist from the centre of a brownie, approximately 20 to 30 minutes; checking every 5 minutes for doneness after 15 minutes has elapsed.  Let cool completely.

Makes 9 to 12 crumbcake brownies, or an 8×8″ pan of brownies.

Until next time…

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