A vintage scooter.
Mont Blanc cufflinks.
USSR-era Russian pocket watches.
A used Mac.
An off-brand Zune. (No lie, it was called the Creative ZenE)
All of these are examples of the incredibly extravagant, fairly dumb things I have purchased in the past. It’s safe to say that I’m not good at bargain hunting. There are, however, a few things that I can’t bring myself to buy, no matter how adorably pretentious they may be. One of these is any baking mix above $5. Baked comes out with a new Williams-Sonoma exclusive brownie? No can do. Momofuku packages their cookie mixes? Sorry. I can’t see the value in a small, pre-portioned amount of baked goods, some of which are fairly sub par at the source, for the price of seeing a mediocre feature film.
Needless to say, I nearly peed myself when I walked into our local organic grocery outlet slash butch singles bar and saw brownie mixes from Fat Witch for the mere price of $3 and change, a brownie mix that typically costs $10-12 before shipping. Holy crap, Betty Crocker’s most shameful mixes cost more than this. Fat Witch has been on my radar for a while now. Though I haven’t had the chance to go, I figured it couldn’t hurt to bake up a batch of “witches” at home and see how they fared.
The box illustrations are incredibly cute, albeit a hair twee, and the instructions are succinct and actually useful. Too often do I grab a mix and start preparing it, only to find that in addition to the one stick of butter, I need a mixer, six small bowls, and an extra bottle of dishwashing fluid to complete the recipe. The instructions include not only a list of needed ingredients, but a list of dishes or utensils you may need. Some parts are annoyingly vague, like the step where you let the brownies cool without any suggestion for time. As anyone with a sweet tooth knows, this is a terribly relative amount of time. “Cool” for me is any temperature where I can dig my hands into the pan without risking a third-degree burn. Second-degree, I can deal with.
Mess-wise, it’s a cinch to prepare and still feel like you’re putting in some work with very little clean-up involved. It’s a one bowl recipe if you have a stainless steel bowl that can be heated on the stove. The rest of the ingredients are mixed in, the entire process taking roughly ten minutes. The batter was strangely pliable, like non-sticky peanut butter. This photo sort of illustrates it. I liked that it didn’t take a lot of butter to make a smooth dough. The included chocolate chips were sized perfectly, rather than some of the minis or behemoths I’ve seen in other mixes.
The blondies came out of the oven smelling sweet and nutty, with a slight saline scent that quickly wore off and a lingering cakiness. The top had a delicately browned crust with pools of melting chocolate scattered around. After waiting an agonizing hour, I cut into the brownies. They were fantastic, with a slightly gummy, tender texture and extremely moist interior, with addictive and chewy crisp edges. The flavor didn’t shy away from salt, and carried a savory, yet blatantly dessert-y quality. We still felt that they could have used more salt, as the chocolate chips were fairly sweet. Fresh out of the oven, the warm pieces had a gooey, indulgent texture reminiscent of eating a Tollhouse cookie pie. Room-temperature, they settled and lost some of the airiness that made them so moist, but were still chewy with no crumbliness. $10 blondies? Not really. But for around $3, they’re some of the nicest I’ve had from a box.