Baking… In the Microwave?!

Idly browsing through our massive collections of cookbooks one day, I stumbled upon my mom’s old “Microwave Gourmet” [or something to that effect.] I’m not a huge fan of the microwave, personally… Sure, they’re wonderful for reheating, but in general, almost every dish suffers somewhat texturally in the end. I do have somewhat of a bias towards the toaster oven… I even think that some toasters out there are downright sexy. If only it were blue…

Anyway, back to this whole microwave cookbook deal. Flipping through the basic recipes, they were little more than plates of steamed vegetables and meats, nothing that really caught my eye. But then, in the very back hid a tiny section on desserts. Upon closer examination, there were pretty decent ideas lurking beneath the surface. There was even a recipe for… Brownies?! What?? Is it even possible? Why had no one told me that this could be done before?

Essentially, my whole concept of the microwave had been shattered.

There was no way to leave this thought alone; It haunted me, calling out from its pastic shell. Just try it, you know you want to… How could I possibly resist?

Digging through various vegan brownie techniques, I discovered that I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand for any of them. Ah well, time to get creative with what’s avaliable and mix things up! A flurry of measuring and stirring ensued, yeilding quickly to a promising brownie batter. Out of the bowl and into the…. microwave.

The initial results were… Less than inspiring. The center appeared to have remained in a pudding-like state, while the sides nonetheless seemed to have cooked – More than I had honestly expected. It even pulled away from the sides of the dish, indicating solidity. A gentle poke proved that the surface was… Erm, somewhat disturbingly rubbery. Having satisified my immediate curiousity, I returned it to the microwave for another minute or two in order to thoroughly nuke the center.

End verdict? Wow, gooey chocolately goodness. So much so that my mom feels they’re closer to fudge than brownies, and decided they deserve the title of “fudgey bars” instead. The fact that there is no actual cooking on the outside allows they to be so dense and creamy, and while possessing a wonderfully smooth mouth-feel, this is not what I see as the perfect brownie. Still, this little experiment has given me a lot to think about regarding the modern innovation known as the microwave. Perhaps it deserves more respect that I’ve previously allowed.

Now, you’d think this is where it would all end right? At first I would have agreed, but then I realized I hadn’t yet fully completed my test. A few nights later I was called upon to bring baked goods to a family function… And realized it was the perfect opportunity to try out the same exact technique, but this time, in a traditional oven for a full comparison.

Ensuring accurate results, I greased up the exact same pan, mixed up the same chocolate mess, and tossed it into my trusty old oven…

..I believe I may have inadvertently found the mythical “perfect” vegan brownie. A different create entirely from its microwaved sibbling, they are near flawless. A delicate balance between cake and fudge, richly chocolate and crunchy around the crisp edges, I don’t think it can get much better than this.

Really, it’s so amazing, I’m going to have to be a greedly little vegan and keeping my golden recipe all to myself for now… But your patience will be rewarded, for the method shall be forthcoming in due time. I’m extremely proud of this one, but I still think it could use some work before I can truly deem it to be a “perfect” brownie recipe.