Fudgies v. Cakies: The Brownie Wars

Dessert, Holidays, Recipes
on July 27, 2008
Mark Boughton Photography / styling: Teresa Blackburn

In the world of brownies, there are two key players—“fudgy” and “cakey.” For hard-core “fudgies,” the perfect brownie is a dense, chocolaty confection that practically sticks to the roof of your mouth. In the other camp are “cakies,” who say the ideal brownie has leavening and extra flour and tastes more like a piece of cake than a piece of fudge.

Because we love anything even resembling a brownie, we’ve never understood why anyone would quibble about something that tasted so good. It’s the kind of a no-win culinary argument we try to stay out of because we know even if there was a meeting of-the-palates, the next questions would be about adding nuts or brickle bits, or more chocolate.

No one would be more surprised by all the fuss than Fannie Farmer, who published the first brownie recipe in 1896 as a spin-off of chocolate cookies. Farmer’s brownies, called “elfin cakes” after popular cartoon characters, were baked in individual tins and flavored with molasses. In addition to nuts in the batter, each cake had a walnut half on top.

Our Fudge Mint Brownies, similar to Farmer’s original recipe with butter, melted chocolate and a small amount of flour, tend to be a combination of fudgy and cakey. The inside squares are dense and moist and the outer ones are more cakey. We’ve finished them off with a ridiculously simple chocolate mint candy glaze that covers the top with a shine and works well with both “fudgies” and “cakies.”

—Jean Kressy