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Simple Brownie Recipe - Taste Test!

Updated on May 12, 2014

Which tastes better, cocoa based or chocolate based?

I've been looking for a simple brownie recipe--the simplest available, actually--to break my addiction to Ghirardelli brownie mix. While the latter is wonderful, I like minimizing additives in the treats I give my family. Problem is, I'm a mediocre baker whose home-baked desserts are often disappointing. Hence the search for a foolproof brownie recipe. What I discovered is that there are essentially 2 ways to go: cocoa powder or melted chocolate. Having found 2 promising recipes--one with cocoa & one with melted chocolate--I decided to make them literally side by side for taste-testing by myself & family. Here, the results.

(photo: Cristiano Betta cc ~ cropped for shape)

Cocoa powder simple brownie recipe

Adapted from C. Nelson via

~~ The recipe ~~

~~ My results ~~

Per several previous reviewers, I decreased the flour from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I also left out the walnuts so that this would be a bare-bones brownie contest. The batter came out dark and somewhat thin, almost closer to cake batter than brownie batter from a mix. It tasted (yes, of course I tasted it) deliciously cocoa-y. The original recipe said to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, but these brownies took more like 45 to be firm enough in the center to take out. That may have been partly because I decreased the flour, though, and also cooked them literally side by side with another batch using the recipe below. Overall, I was really happy with how these came out. I grew up eating a yummy chocolate sheet cake from a cocoa-packed recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, and these brownies tasted a lot like that -- but with the thicker, gooey-er brownie consistency. Not only was the taste great, but these were absurdly easy. Will absolutely make these again!

(photo: amazon)

Did you try this recipe? How was it?

See results

Melted-chocolate simple brownie recipe

From Christine Gallary via

~~ The recipe ~~

~~ My results ~~

This batter was thicker and harder to stir -- more like a brownie-mix batter, and actually it tasted a bit more like that as well, but fresher and fudgier. (Using butter, as both these recipes do, vs. the oil that mixes call for, yields a much nicer flavor, in my humble opinion.) It was thicker & stickier in the pan and harder to smooth on top. Probably because I didn't tamper with the recipe, this pan actually cooked for me in more or less the time suggested. The recipe said 25 minutes, and I left it in for 30 as I was making two pans at once for the taste-test. The result was significantly lighter-colored (compared to the cocoa-based recipe) but moist, chewy, delicious fudge brownies. Another keeper!

(image: Editor at Large via Wikimedia Commons)

Did you try this recipe? how was it?

See results

One-bowl brownies!

With my 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup I was able to make the cocoa-based simple brownie recipe in just one bowl. I melted the butter in this giant measuring cup & then added each additional ingredient as directed ... then poured right into a foil brownie pan. So little cleanup for so much yumminess.

I used it for the chocolate-based recipe below, too, melting butter & chocolate in it together in the microwave on low heat. Per the recipe, I did have to use a second bowl for mixing the dry ingredients, but cleanup was still a snap. Not as crazy-easy as the cocoa recipe, but close :)

~~ Poll! ~~

How do you make your brownies?

See results

so which one won?

simple brownie recipe - ready to bake
simple brownie recipe - ready to bake

My personal preference, by a tiny tiny margin, is the cocoa-based recipe (first one) for its ultra homemade flavor & extreme ease. Hubby could not pick, loved 'em both & thus gave half a vote to each recipe. When I tallied in the votes from my 3 kids, their 2 cousins & my brother-in-law, the total came out to 4.5 votes for the melted-chocolate recipe, 3.5 for the cocoa based one. My plan for the future is to alternate recipes. These are both keepers!

(photo: mine .... ready to bake!)

Go for the good stuff

Droste Cocoa (8.8o oz)
Droste Cocoa (8.8o oz)

The simpler the brownie recipe, the more important it is to use high-quality ingredients. I used Droste cocoa powder for recipe 1 and Ghirardelli chocolate chips (half 60% cocoa & half semisweet) for recipe 2 -- with excellent results.


What's your favorite simple brownie recipe? Or do you prefer a boxed mix?


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    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Awesome brownie lens; thanks for sharing.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 5 years ago

      Looks really scrumptious! Will be glad to try them out!

    • profile image

      AlexBPearl 5 years ago