Chef Michael Smith’s Triple Chocolate Brownies: The Second Best Brownies Ever

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the best brownies ever are the Outrageous Brownies from Purebread (which started in Whistler but now has a few Vancouver locations, too). It doesn’t matter if you get the banana ones or the raspberry ones or the regular ones, they’re the best – plain and simple.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for them. However, I do have the recipe for the second best brownies: Michael Smith’s Triple Chocolate Brownies.

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I first tasted these brownies as at book club meeting back in the late winter or early spring. There is another member of my book club who is very passionate about baking – in addition to talking book plots and characters, we like to swap recipes and drool-worthy baking photos and tips. She brought these triple chocolate brownies and they were amazing. She said the Michael Smith recipe was her go-to, so I decided to look them up and give them a go myself.

They were just as good when I made them, so I dubbed them my favourite recipe, too. (Until I can get a hold of the Purebread recipe…)

As the name suggests, this recipe uses three different sources of chocolate: regular chocolate (like a bar), cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. The result: a tasty triple threat that is moist, fudgey, and overall fantastic.

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First, the chocolate. I discovered they sell Callebaut chocolate in blocks at Save on Foods in Squamish – hallelujah! Although Nesters has the best fancy baking stuff, Save on Foods has a better assortment (and a bulk section to die for) – they will be my new go to for baking goods. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of chocolate, which gets melted along with a cup of butter over a double boiler. Once everything is melted and mixed, the recipe says to whisk the whole thing to make it extra smooth. I’m not sure if this is really necessary, but better safe than sorry, right?

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Next up: the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder gets mixed with some flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Simple, right? Those are your dry ingredients.

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The chocolate chips come a little later – first, you have to mix 4 eggs with some brown sugar and a whopping tablespoon of vanilla. These wet ingredients then get combined with the melted butter/chocolate combo, which has had a chance to cool down. Then, the dry ingredients get incorporated, along with the chocolate chips (at last!)

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Hot tip: the Squamish Save on Foods also offers a few different types of chocolate chips in the bulk section, so you don’t have to buy a whole bag when you only need a cup, as is the case in this recipe.

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You’re supposed to bake the brownies in a 9 x 13 pan, but I opted to do two 8 x 8 pans instead. The directions say to oil the pans and dust them with flour, but I once learned a hot tip that involves using cocoa powder instead of flour for dusting pans used for brownies, chocolate cakes, and other chocolatey things, so that’s what I did.

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Though the recipe calls for 25 minutes or so in the oven, mine were for about 32 until I thought they looked sufficiently cooked through (without getting dried out – it’s a fine line).

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Here’s what I like about this recipe:

  • The ingredients are simple. Yes, it calls for 3 types of chocolate, but the rest of the ingredients areĀ  things you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • You don’t need an electric mixer (yup, mine is still busted).
  • It’s a pretty straightforward recipe – then again, most brownie recipes are.
  • The brownies taste exquisite – I have to say, these brownies surpass the ones I’ve made from my Dorie’s Cookies cookbook and from the Bobbette & Belle cookbook.
  • Chef Michael Smith – I mean, how CAN’T you love the soft-spoken east coaster?!?!

I Shall Never Eat Biscotti Again: Dorie’s Cookies Chocolate Chip Not-Quite Mandelbrot

Bad news: I’m pretty sure I can never make biscotti again.

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And these cute looking “Chocolate Chip Not-Quite Mandelbrot” cookies are to blame.

You see, I whipped this batch of cookies up for a book club meeting I had early in my first trimester juuuuust as my food aversions were starting to hit. [PS – I am posting this during my third trimester – my lagging blog post trend continues.] Thankfully, this stage only lasted a week or two – but at the expense of my love of biscotti*.

*These are technically not biscotti. They are technically not even Mandelbrot, which is what the recipe is supposed to be modeled after. But they are an awful lot like biscotti – twice baked and everything – and so the entire biscotti genre of cookie shall suffer.

I enjoyed eating the ends and broken bits of the cookies as I was baking them, but as soon as the whole thing was done, suddenly they seemed awful to me. I can’t explain why – all I know is that when I brought them to book club, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them, and the thought of them today makes my stomach turn a little.

It’s not the recipe’s fault – I promise! Everyone else who ate them said they are fantastic.

Anyways, this blog post is devoted to the memory of biscotti. I didn’t eat you very often, but I will probably never eat you again for the rest of my life.

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Dorie’s Cookies “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies” Recipe Review

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A picky comment – the photography in Dorie’s Cookies is not my favourite. But as I continue to bake (and photograph) my own cookies, I’m realizing it is kind of hard to photograph cookies in exciting, unconventional ways. Respect to food stylists!

It is no secret that Cedric is a fan of chocolate chip cookies.

As I have previously explained, in our household, we like to make a batch of cookie dough and freeze individually portioned cookies so that when the need for something sweet hits, we simply have to throw a few cookie pucks in the oven and voila: instant fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.

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Recently, our freezer stash dwindled down to dangerously low supply levels and I decided it was time to make a new batch. Naturally, I knew I had to try a chocolate chip cookie recipe from my new Dorie’s Cookies cookbook – but which one?

I should have known that a cookbook devoted entirely to cookies would contain more than one chocolate chip cookie recipe – it is, after all, a classic. Here were my options:

  • Kerrin’s Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • My Classic Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Two-Bite One-Chip Cookies

I opted for “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies” – Dorie’s latest remix of her original “My Classic Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe.

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So what’s different about this recipe? Most chocolate chip cookie recipes vary only very slightly – but even the smallest change in sugar/butter/flour ratio, type of sugar used, cooking temperature, and cooking time can have radical effects. (Yes, chocolate chip cookies can be radical.) This particular recipe features a blend of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour and white and brown sugar for optimal chewiness. It uses baking soda, not baking powder, and it calls for a couple of unconventional spices (for chocolate chip cookies at least): nutmeg and coriander.

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I didn’t have any coriander on hand (isn’t coriander cilantro? do I really want that it my cookie?), but Dorie says that we can use our discretion when it comes to including or omitting the spices. I kept the nutmeg but left out the coriander.

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This recipe is as quick to make as any chocolate chip recipe is, though it calls for at least an hour in the fridge before baking. I rolled up most of my dough into individual cookies to freeze for later, but I did bake a few so that I could give this recipe the review it deserves.

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The recipe says to bake for 9 to 11 minutes. I left mine in for 10, and they looked perfect coming out: pale in the middle (chewiness galore!), brown on the edges. The pictures in the cookbook look a little darker than mine, but after I let mine sit for a few minutes, they were the perfect texture. If I had let them get darker, I think they would have been too crispy for my liking.

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Right out of the oven

The greatest challenge with chocolate chip cookies is knowing that they taste even better if you let them sit for a little while and cool fully – but also knowing that there is nothing better than a still-hot cookie with chocolate that oozes. I compromised: I ate my cookie straight out of the oven, and I left two cookies to cool fully for Cedric to sample when he got home.

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We both really liked this cookie. I’ll have to try a few more of the freezer ones before I make a final judgment call, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying some of the other chocolate chip cookie recipes in this book (the Kerrin’s recipe includes buckwheat flour and kasha – I don’t even know what kasha is!)

One final note on chocolate chip cookies: some people wonder if there is really such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. Oh, but there is – and for some reason, cafes and bakeries often serve substandard versions. As a kid, I loved the Tim Horton’s and Subway ones, but now the texture bothers me and so does the crystalized sugar taste. One local cafe (I won’t name names) serve puck-like chocolate chip cookies that are too hard and crumbly; another is disappointingly bland and low on actual chocolate.

So yes, it is possible to botch the chocolate chip cookie. And no, that is not a concern with this recipe – thankfully.

Bobbette & Belle’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there any chocolate chip cookie recipe that doesn’t claim to be the best?

It’s doubtful. But, to be fair, there are a lot of really excellent chocolate chip cookie recipes in this wonderful world of ours. I should know – I’ve baked about a thousand varieties since I’ve known Cedric.

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Although nobody would argue the fact that I have the sweeter tooth, Cedric’s baked good kryptonite is chocolate chip cookies (and apple crumble – or is it apple crisp? I haven’t tried baking this for him yet, though, because I know it won’t be as good as the one his mom makes!)

We eat a lot of chocolate chip cookies. Here’s the thing: when I make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, I don’t bake them all right away. Rather, I freeze the dough. Whenever we feel like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies (which, if I’m perfectly honest, is several nights a week), we just take some out of the freezer and cook two single servings. Boom: hot, freshly baked cookies in just 16 minutes – every time.

I’ve tried a few different methods of freezing the cookie dough, and in this post, I’ll outline the best technique I’ve found thus far. But this post isn’t just about freezing cookie dough – it’s about the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from my beloved Bobbette & Belle cookbook.

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The name is slightly misleading because it omits the fact that this recipe contains two cups of large-flake rolled oats. That’s a substantial amount of oats – enough, I would argue, to rename the recipe Ultimate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. At first, I thought Cedric would resist the oat factor (after all, some people are cookie purists). But when I ran the idea by him, he seemed very enthused at the prospect of oats. So I gave it a go.

It’s a very easy recipe with the usual ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, room temperature unsalted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and chocolate chips) + oats. The only place I tend to get creative is with the chocolate chips. First of all, I disregard the suggested 3/4 cup – I pretty much pour in an entire bag of chocolate chips. As a sage friend once pointed out, “When has anyone ever complained that there are too many chocolate chips?”

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Fun fact: I never eat the raw dough out of the bowl. I’m annoyingly hygienic about my baking. On the plus side, if you ever eat my baked goods, you know they haven’t been messed with.

We tend to prefer milk chocolate chips, which are tasty but arguably not as aesthetically pleasing as semisweet or dark chocolate chips. Sometimes, I like to mix two kinds together (usually when they have a “buy two for $5” promo at Craig’s).

While we’re on the topic of chocolate chips, by the far the BEST chocolate chips I have ever had are the Ghiradelli chocolate chips. If they have these at your grocery store, buy the entire stock. I haven’t seen them around in a long time, but next time I find them, I’m buying them by the truck load. The Chipit Hershey Kisses chips are also the bomb, and also not available at my grocery store. Sigh.

 

Okay, so here’s my freezing technique: I cut out little squares of wax paper. I drop a dollop of dough onto the square, then I fold up the wax paper and shape it into the shape of a puck. I push down slightly in the middle so that the outside edges are thicker than the centre. This makes it bake more evenly later on (because the middle will take longer to thaw in the oven than the edges).

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I reuse the little wax paper squares a few times – just be careful when unwrapping them, and you’ll get a few uses out of them.

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Once I’ve wrapped up all my little cookies, I put them in a freezer ziploc bag. When we’re ready to bake, we take a few out of the bag while we preheat the oven. Boom – easy as that.

In our oven, we find 16 minutes to be the perfect amount of time for baking (this is more than the 8 to 12 minutes suggested in the book). If I’m not cooking from the freezer, I still cook them a little longer – about 15 minutes. I like my cookies to be nice and golden – if you prefer them to be super soft and raw in the middle, 8 to 12 minutes is probably more your cup of tea.

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So is it really the *ultimate* cookie? It’s definitely up there and it has become one of my two chocolate chip cookie go tos (the other one is this one – a good bet if you’re not feeling the oats). This recipe definitely deserves its place in the Bobbette & Belle cookbook.