Packet Mix Brownies Are Harder Than They Seem…

Today was one of those days where I decided to be one of those lovely dinner guests, who bring dessert. They bake you something delicious and bring it round in a Quality Street tin. I decided to make brownies, and I should have known the venture wasn’t going to go exceedingly well, when I bought the packet mix. You know the one. With the “just add water” instructions on the back. But nevertheless, I thought, “hm… what could possibly go wrong?”. The answer of course, was just about everything.

To start with, I didn’t have any greaseproof paper, which would have been perfectly fine, except apparently when using baking tins, it’s something of a necessity. The next error was that I had no scales. No scales to measure twenty-five grams of butter, and had to sort of go with a “wing it” approach. Using a tablespoon. Which, in case anyone was wondering, is a wildly inaccurate way of adding ingredients to a packet mix.

I’d just about managed to get the mix into two rectangular tins. Being a student, I do not have a seven-inch square tin, lined with greaseproof. I had a seven by four-inch rectangular tin, that was no so much lined with greaseproof paper, as with grease, the variety that comes from butter. The mix also seemed to be spread awfully thinly across the tin. I was assured that it would rise, and that no one would even notice. The problem really started to appear when I put the two tins into the oven.

"Oh, they look nice"... "Errr...I wouldn't get too hopeful about the ones I'm bringing"... (1)

The instructions told me that I should bake the brownies for fifteen minutes, on one hundred and seventy degrees celsius. I’d even remembered to pre-heat the oven first. Another, rather important, element that seemed to have slipped my mind though, was that our oven, again, being a student oven, is less than reliable, and is much more uneven than otherwise. So in the brownies went, me bumbling along, doing some clearing up, thinking that the brownies will be done in the blink of an eye. But when I looked in the door, they seemed very flat. The white chocolate mixture in particular, seemed to have formed a rather hard shell, that was preventing the mixture below from cooking. So I left the brownies for a few minutes, checked back, and it seemed that nothing had really changed. So there I was, pondering how I could get the middle to cook. At this point, I got bored, and decided to make some lunch.

After about forty-five minutes cooking time, the cookie-dough brownies looked almost acceptable (except for the little hole my flatmate had put in them, causing them to sink…) and so I put them on top of the hob to cool down. I also extracted the white ones, which had at this point, formed a biscuit-y sort of slightly burnt around the edges tray bake. Obviously, that didn’t stop us, and we thought we’d better “check to see if they were okay”.

As far as I can tell, the best of the bunch are cooling on the hob at the moment. The white ones have been confined to scrap bin, i.e. my flatmate’s mouths. You never know, if I’m really lucky, the cake goblins will have swooped down and murdered my little brownies, making them flat and burnt too. In fact, I’d better go and check…




4 thoughts on “Packet Mix Brownies Are Harder Than They Seem…

  1. Here in North America (and I believe Australia too), recipes are measured out in “cups”. It doesn’t matter how big the cup is…as long as you keep using the same one for all the ingredients in the recipe. Cunning way of avoiding lugging a scales and cast iron weights across the prairies, when you have a cup or two anyway!
    As for brownies… to this day, we still use the Blue Peter one in preference to all the Canadian alternatives we’ve tried since emigrating. It’s no longer on the CBBC site, but is faithfully copied here:

    • Hmm.. I like the idea of the cup system. We have no such thing here across the pond. I have always wondered how the cup system worked. Thank you for clearing that up! I love how Blue Peter is something of a cultural cornerstone. I’ve yet to find a recipe that’s relatively low fat- that’s my next big challenge.
      Thank you for reading!

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