A few years back I had the rather ambitious idea of making double-decker brownies that looked like dice for my husband’s birthday. I was kind of on an obsessive brownie baking kick at the time after getting a “Perfect Brownie” brownie pan for Christmas. (As seen on TV!) So I was pretty excited and suspected not even a little how much work was going to be involved. It was a nightmare. The “Perfect Brownie Pan, TM!” cuts rectangles and I needed squares. So the first hurdle was trying to make all my rectangles into equal squares. I have never excelled at uniformity. That part went badly. After that was the frosting, another thing I’m terrible at, and so that part went even worse.
And yet, this year, I decided to take a stab at dice brownies again. Perhaps time dulled the agony that I experienced. Or maybe it’s just love. All that love I have for my wonderful husband who is sometimes a pain in that ass, sometimes a wonderful guy and always the best thing that ever happened to me.
Anyway, whatever the reason, I set to work. Finding the perfect brownie recipe was the first hurdle I had to jump. It wasn’t easy, but it did involve eating all the “failures”. Phase one was a delight, is what I’m saying. I finally found a passable recipe but I’m not going to link it. I changed it far too much to really credit it. I hate recipes and trying to make the best brownie possible from a recipe cemented that fact. I made my changes and then I quadrupled the recipe. The results were good enough for a brownie beauty pageant. Look at those gorgeous pans.
Baking was the easy part, however. In order to have squares, I couldn’t use the edges. That meant cutting each of the pans of brownies into a workable rectangle. It ended up looking something like this:
At this point, I was ready to stop. I am a firm believer that baking should be a sprint, not a marathon. Cooking is the thing that’s supposed to take ages and wear you out. Baking is something I do for fun and generally in quick bursts. Not to mention, the endurance run was leading to a lot of brownie pieces going into my mouth. And that is not good for my hips. In case you’re curious, this is how much extra brownie I had left over:
And I still had to cut the giant rectangles into small squares. Somehow, I managed to get that done without everything falling apart into nothing. That was a lot harder than it might seem, these brownies were quite crumbly.
Frosting was up next. I used a basic buttercream recipe to make the frosting, adding in some orange extract and lemon juice for flavor. I wanted the effect of the finished product to taste like a chocolate orange.
The first try was too thick, I couldn’t get it to spread and had to apply it to the brownies like modeling clay. Not something I wanted to do. I thinned it out with a little milk but then of course it was too thin. I used it just fine to frost the brownies but they didn’t dry right, which meant I couldn’t shape them very easily before I applied the chocolate chips. The thing with dice brownies is they’re frosted on all sides, so I don’t have an easy way to handle them if they aren’t dry. When they’re first frosted, they look a little like the sort of cubes a child might draw. Kind of on point, but a bit…off.
Not winning any beauty contests anymore. Someday, I’d like to be able to afford to buy fondant. Or, at least, to be competent enough to make it. I think it would work better for the recipe. In the meantime, however, I have to wait til the frosting dries and then mold it as best I can into what vaguely resembles a D6.
Those two were the best specimens I managed to create. I think that this is why I often chose function over form. It’s so much easier to make something that tastes nice than to make something that looks nice. As a side note, mini-chocolate chips are the cutest little bits of deliciousness known to humankind.