When it comes to brownies I know most people like to stick with their tried-and-tested recipes, which are usually quick and tailored to their own palette. Their idea of experimenting is trying a different nut or substituting spices. I know this for a fact because I used to be that person.
But people change. Nowadays I rarely go back to the same recipe twice! And as for brownies, I say life’s too short to stay in the comfort zone. Experiment. That’s my new mantra when it comes to food. So now that you are aware of my enlightened approach to cooking, it should put into perspective my excitement when CookThatBook asked me to review a cookbook dedicated entirely to brownies.
As you flip through Annie Rigg’s Fabulous Brownies (Published by Ryland Peters $15.95 USD), you will come across a few cute ideas that can take your basic brownies to the next level. But my happiness was short lived because there are only 27 recipes. Honestly, I was expecting more.
I had to pick three recipes to test for the review and I wanted to make sure there was a variety of different brownies; something for everyone. A simple Salted Caramel Brownie to keep you warm on a rainy day, luscious Gingerbread Brownies for some late night indulgence, and delectable Cupcake Brownies which are perfect for not sharing.
When it comes to brownies, there are three things that I absolutely need to have present:
1. A cracked top
2. A gooey core
3. Easy to bake
Overall while I did like the book, there were some issues. The photography by Laura Edwards is good but from a design perspective I found not enough importance was given to the layout of the recipes. Personally, I think cookbooks must have a clean design with a decently sized, readable font. This book fails on both counts. And even though the recipes themselves provide great inspiration for experimenting with new and exciting brownie flavours, I was disappointed in the limited number of recipes.
The instructions are fairly simple but the author provides no tips for serving suggestions or storage. Sure, there is one short line included in the introduction that tells you the brownies should last 4-5 days at room temperature but this is not a universal rule. For instance, I think the brownies with ganache would be better stored in the fridge or at least kept in a cool place. A variety of flavors and combinations would have taken this book to the next level.
There were definitely some nice decorative ideas, such as the Brown(ie) Owls which are absolutely adorable and the Whopper Brownies which would be a surefire hit with the kids. There’s no denying this book contains lots of inspiring ideas guaranteed to expand your typical brownie repertoire. I just wish there were more.
In conclusion, everyone loves brownies. They are the ultimate rich, gooey and pure indulgent treat. With three recipes down, I’ll be surely trying more and eating my way through this book one brownie at a time while adding to my brownie repertoire. But is it the ultimate brownie book I’ve been waiting for? Not quite.
Salted Caramel Brownies
Recipe Rating: 4 out of 5 (simple recipe, great combination of salty & sweet)
The Test: The instructions for this recipe are straightforward. The salted caramel turns out perfectly if you follow the directions. However, one tip you need to keep in mind is the cream you add should be at room temperature. And if you add the cream and find the caramel starts to clot, don’t worry because it will sort itself out once you put it back on the heat. I strongly suggest not to leave the caramel unattended until it reaches the cooling stage. Trust me.
The Results: The brownies turned out perfect! They achieved the ultimate balance of salty caramel and deep dark chocolate brownies. If you happen to prefer your brownies a little more on the gooey side like I do, I suggest you take them out of the oven a couple of minutes before the suggested bake time. Switch the pecans with a choice of your nuts or avoid them completely if you wish. The lack of serving instructions led me to cut the brownies into various sizes. In the end I served half of the batch in bite sized pieces, which were perfect with coffee after a dinner party, while the other half I cut into regular sized squares and dusted with sugar and garnished with fresh strawberries.
Recipe Rating: 2 out of 5 (dense & one dimensional)
The Test: Although this recipe is easily executed, be warned that it does call for quite a few different spices and I recommend you skip none, even the hot chill powder. The best bit about these brownies was the whiff of warm spices and sweet chocolate filling the kitchen in the morning while they were in the oven. This was the recipe I was most excited to try.
The Result: As warned by the author, the brownies should not be eaten on the same day. Give it a day or even two for the flavours to deepen and the spices to develop fully before adding the ganache. That being said, I still found them to be overly dense in texture and disappointing in the flavor department. Considering the amount of spices that went into the batter, they tasted flat and held none of the punch I expected. I also wouldn’t recommend trying these without the ganache topping, as by themselves the brownies were rather dry.
Cupcake Brownies (great texture & visually very elegant)Recipe Rating: 4 out of 5
The Test: I picked this particular recipe for two reasons: My love for individual treats, and my wish to bake another brownie that used the ganache recipe. Moreover, a brownie + cupcake combo is one that few would be able to resist. Would you be able to say no?!
The Results: As with the other recipes I tested, this one was simple and straightforward to prepare. It used easily sourced ingredients and resulted in a very elegant looking dessert. The results are rich and hold a lovely caramelized flavour due to the use of brown sugar over regular granulated sugar. If you’re making these treats for kids, I suggest opting for the milk ganache but if you’re looking for a more grown-up taste try the dark ganache. Want to play naughty? Add a splash of rum. Don’t give up on the ganache; it does take time to thicken but have faith – it will come together. (I have some ideas for variations I’ve put down along side the author’s recipe.)
These brownies make for a great treat no matter how old you are. They take the cupcake form easily, and have a nice, firm, crackly top while maintaining a gooey center. With or without the ganache these can easily be put in a basket and whisked away for a picnic or snuck into the office for a mid-day snack.
- 175 g/6 oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 125 g/1 stick butter, diced
- 150 g/¾ cup light brown (soft) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 g/¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon plain/all-purpose flour
- teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1 quantity Milk Chocolate Frosting
- sugar sprinkles
- 125 g/4 oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I prefer to use a chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage, around 54–68%, for this frosting)
- 125 g/4 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 175 ml/2/3 cup double/heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or golden syrup
- 125 g/1 stick soft butter, diced
- a 12-cup muffin pan, lined with 10 pretty cupcake cases
- a piping bag, fitted with a star-shaped nozzle/tip
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
- Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined. Leave to cool slightly.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract for 2–3 minutes until light and foamy. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and fold in until well incorporated.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared cupcakes cases, filling them two-thirds full. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until firm and well risen.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Milk Chocolate Frosting according to the recipe and spoon into the prepared piping bag. Pipe a generous swirl over each cupcake brownie. Scatter sugar sprinkles over the top and leave to set before serving.
- Tip the chocolates into a small, heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and syrup in a small saucepan until only just boiling. Pour it over the chopped chocolates, add the butter and leave to melt. Stir until smooth, then leave to thicken slightly before using.
39 Responses to Review: Annie Rigg’s Fabulous Brownies | Cupcake Brownies
the book looks great ! i love the cupcake brownie…definitely has the pick me up look
I adore those decorated brownies with the sprinkles, up top. This book sounds awesome, and your creations of them, especially the salted caramel, are making the tum rumble! Awesome review!
Omg I love that you gave such an honest review. So refreshing if you ask me. I love the cover of the book and would probably buy it just based on that. Might have to give that cupcake one a whirl.
I would have chose the same one, just the name would have anyone wanting to eat these. Love the suggestions that you put at the end of the recipe-the recipe is definitely a good base that you can work with. I have seen this book before, but by the cover I had the impression that it was more on how to decorate than actual recipes. Now that you have reviewed the book, I do have a better idea of what is inside.
Pretty please will you post the salted caramel brownie recipe? :-)
Oh my gosh, these could not be any cuter! Great post.
Too bad the book wasn’t all you’d hoped it to be, but those salted caramel brownies sure do look incredible! I love caramel and chocolate combination, so these sound perfect!
How about this adorable book. Just precious as your confections!! Yummy yummy blog & giveaway girlie.
Sorry it wasn’t the book you were hoping for, but your brownies sure do look delicious! The salted caramel brownies sound especially yummy!
Oh you evil, evil person, telling me about the gooey core! They look amazing!
I can’t decide between the cupcake or the salted caramel brownies, though I do have a weakness anything with ganache. Pretty sure I would need to sample both in order to choose a favorite. :) Great review!
Brownie is very common, everybody knows at least one recipe on how to make it, even kids can make one, but is it so simple as it looks? I don’t think so, there is little line that if the recipe cross you have a cake instead of a brownie, so, if you find a recipe that really works as you like, just memorize it and keep it.
These are, by far, the most gorgeous chocolate brownies I’ve ever seen. The photographs of each were, visually for me, almost as much of a treat as (I’m imagining) eating them. What genius to set a mood (and a sexy one at that) for the desserts. Love what you did with light and shadow. Kudos and I’m bookmarking this one. I just want to come back and stare.
That word … that so very tempting word ….. GOOEY!! Sigh … there goes my will power and there goes my already feeble attempt at resisting. Oh, what the heck, I’m making this over the weekend.
look amazing! OH MY
Wonderful review, Fifi! Yes, new recipes and new variations to try! I wish someone here at home would like to try brownies, but I’ll have to save this for a day when I have to bring treats to school!
Your review is most helpful! Thank you for sharing ;-).
I absolutely love your post about the different brownies. You said cute individual portion. You cannot resist to just one.
Such beautiful brownies.. ! It is difficult to pick one favourite
Such a great concept for a book! I would hope for more recipes too though! However, the ones you picked all seem so wonderful, especially the cupcake brownies that you wouldnt have to share with anyone!
Ok and I got it right now. Each and everyone of the pics are simply divine and though I am not a dessert person, I am sure drooling over them. Surely its a great book but I would rather come to your blog to look for dessert recipes since you have so many amazing ones which I can follow through.
Keep on doing the research!!! When you get the 5/5 brownie, I will be trying it!!!
I love the way those first brownies are decorated! And those gingerbread brownies sound so interesting with all those spices… it’s too bad they disappointed a little.
I would like to have 5 of each please. Thanks! :-)
i’m all about a gooey center when it comes to brownies. great cookbook review. i never thought about considering the little things like storage advice and font readability! you are truly the master baker!
Glad I didn’t start reading this when the males of my house were around – otherwise I would a) be on my way to buy this book and b) whipping up some brownies right now! At least this way I can finish reading the post before doing a) and of course b)!
Thanks for the very honest review!
All three look delicious to me! :)
The salted caramel brownies look so decadent!
Thanks for such a thorough review of the cookbook! I’ll have to flip through it next time I’m at the bookstore. I like the idea of a cupcake brownie, brownie plus frosting = win
I have NEVER made brownies that look as good as the ones on the cover of that book. And cupcake brownies? Be still my beating heart…
LOVE, love LOVE your photographs of the cupcake brownies! superb!
Brownies again!I tell you,you are becoming my favorite Food Blogger slowly,hehe.
I am glad you gave the recipe for Cupcake Brownies,they looked the most interesting out of the three.Noting it down/bookmarking.:-)
I really like your review, it’s nice to see those on blogs for a change. The brownies look great, I really want to make some cupcakes brownies now, it’s such a great and simple idea! Thanks for the review and fabulous recipe :)
i like the details and thoroughness you have put in the review. visual things are the first thing that put me off about a cookbook. And so true about storage advice, not everyone knows how to really store a gooey or ganached brownie.
You really gave a thoughtful review and honesty is always best. Thank you…and it sounds delightful!
Oh those salted caramel brownies are right up my alley!
I love this book but you’re right about it not being the ultimate book. I have a few brownie recipes-only cookbooks and none of them quite cover all the options!
Anyway, I love the caramel brownies and the cupcakes look cute so I’ll be trying those soon!
That was a very good review. You were straight forward and fair in your opinions. And I can’t say enough good things about your pictures. I’m looking forward to trying the recipe.
Thanks for your honest review. The brownies you made sure do look delicious–especially the cupcake brownie!
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