I hope my mother, who lovingly taught me how to bake dense, fudgy brownies from The Joy of Cooking when I was a little girl isn't reading this: while her version holds a special place in my heart, the Fat Witch's brownies are better.
The Fat Witch Bakery is located in New York City's Chelsea Market, which is also home to Food Network headquarters. Two years ago, when I was freelancing at the Food Network, I couldn't stop myself from popping into the bakery every day on my lunch hour to savor a sample (or two, or three) from the plate so generously set out by the cash register.
Thick, buttery, and moist, Fat Witch's brownies had the most intense chocolate flavor I had ever tasted. Out of all the varieties (such as the Java Witch, the Blondie Witch, and the Caramel Witch) my favorite was the Fat Witch Walnut: with each bite the wafer-thin, crispy top gave way to gooey, bittersweet fudge and toasted, crunchy nuts.
I had to have the recipe. Unfortunately, until very recently Patricia Helding, founder and owner of Fat Witch, guarded her ingredients with her life. Though she has never revealed her recipes to any newspaper, magazine or website, I happen to know (because we share an agent) that she recently signed a cookbook deal. It will be at least a year before publication, however, so until then I'll have to satisfy my sweet tooth with one of Fat Witch's new boxed mixes, available at select Whole Foods and online.
The Fat Witch Mixes are available in three varieties: Original, Blondie, and Snow Witch (white chocolate). While I was tempted to go with the Original and add some walnuts to see if I could create a home version of my bakery favorite, in the end I decided to road test the Snow Witches. Not only were they seasonally appropriate, they were the most unusual. Who has ever seen a white chocolate brownie mix before?
The box contained two pouches: one filled with mix, the other with white chocolate chips. The only necessary additions were 7 tablespoons of butter and 3 eggs. While the instructions called for melting the white chocolate and butter together in a saucepan, I opted to combine them in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. White chocolate burns extremely easily, and since the Fat Witch mix rang in at a costly $8.99, I didn't want to have to start over.
After stirring together the mix and eggs in a separate bowl, I added the melted chocolate mixture, poured everything into a pan, and slid it into a 350ºF oven. Overall, I was pleased with the minimal amount of prep work. Too often, gourmet mixes require a host of extra ingredients and equipment. In an effort to save time I've often spent much too long in the kitchen, dirtying an entire cupboard full of bowls. The Fat Witch mix took about 15 minutes to whip together, and my sink was nearly empty.
Half an hour later, my Snow Witches emerged from the oven, a lovely shade of golden brown. The edges were crisp and buttery, the center deliciously thick and chewy. They tasted very much like blondies, but instead of a hint of caramel, there was a note of creamy white chocolate. I thought they were absolutely divine, but if you're looking for true fudge flavor you're best bet might be the Original Brownie version. Or you could top these with scoops of chocolate ice cream to make inside-out brownie sundaes.
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