Trying Out A New Recipe: Claire Saffitz’s Malted “Forever” Brownies

Athena ScalziWelcome to another installment of me trying out recipes I saw on YouTube! Today we have Claire Saffitz’s brownie recipe. Not just any brownies, though. These are malted brownies! I wasn’t sure what that meant at first, but after reading the ingredient list, it turns out it just has some malted milk powder in the batter.

I knew right away that malted milk powder would be a bitch and a half to find in the store, but other than that, the ingredients list is quite standard and easy! I’d say the only thing out of the ordinary is the Dutch-processed cocoa powder, but I wouldn’t say there’s anything too wild on the list.

So, off to the store I went for some malted milk powder. My assumption was correct, I could not find it anywhere. I searched high and low, in the baking aisle, the powdered drink section, even in the chocolate syrup section. I thought I had found it when I stumbled upon chocolate malted milk powder. I thought, surely they would keep the regular kind next to the chocolate kind, but alas there was none to be found.

So I asked someone! They looked it up, and sure enough it was out of stock. I refused to buy the chocolate kind, because that is NOT what the recipe called for. So I texted my dad that I wouldn’t be making any brownies tonight, and he promptly went to the local IGA and sent me this:

To which his response was, “it’s going into chocolate brownies, it’s fine”. SO I ENDED UP USING IT.

Other than that, I got all the ingredients right except I used 1/4 teaspoon of regular salt instead of one teaspoon of kosher salt. Because never once in my entire got dang life have I seen kosher salt at the store. Aaaand I used light brown sugar instead of dark because I forgot to pick up dark at the store.

Anyways, throwing it all together was super easy and I really loved how little dishes this recipe made. It’s very straightforward, you really just melt everything together in one bowl and mix. And baking is really easy too! Nothing like throwing a pan in at 350 for half an hour.

This is how they came out after 25 minutes in a 340 degree oven (mine runs super hot):

After I took them out of the oven, I thought, I don’t need to look at the recipe anymore, they’re finished! So I closed the recipe and considered these a success. However, if I had kept it open, or maybe paid more attention to the video itself, I would’ve noticed it said to cool these for an hour, and then chill them in the fridge after that for an hour. Neither of which I did.

I cut into them not even ten minutes after they came out and they looked like this:

These were literally straight up batter on the inside. Perplexed as to how they could have been underbaked, I just stuck them back in for ten minutes. And then another ten. And then another ten. They still looked like batter, though, but I was tired of baking them, so I took them out and gave up, and let them sit on top of the stove overnight. I did eat one while it was all gooey and underbaked, though, and it was pretty alright.

The next day, when I checked on them, they were super hard, and the bottoms were extremely tough to bite through. I ate another one and didn’t really like it that much. But then again, I’ve never been a fan of brownies. Like ever. I had hope for this recipe because Claire’s description of a perfect brownie matches mine almost exactly.

I’m the kind of person who likes a fudgy brownie, not cakey. If it’s cakey, it’s basically just chocolate cake. I honestly like underbaked, dense, molten, you know what I’m saying. And if you put frosting on your brownies… that really is just cake at that point.

So, I kind of fucked it on this recipe, but maybe I’ll try again in the near future and actually let them chill and not be impatient like always. At least my parents said they were good!

Do you like brownies? How do you like yours? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


41 Comments on “Trying Out A New Recipe: Claire Saffitz’s Malted “Forever” Brownies”

  1. The Carnation chocolate malted milk powder’s got sugar as its top ingredient, while non-chocolate has wheat flour and malted barley extracts. I bet it made a difference, along with the extra cooking and non-fridging.

    On the other hand, King Arthur malted milk powder has actual malted barley and wheat as the top ingredients, not just extracts, so it might be worth finding one that’s intended for cooking more than for making flavored milk.

    I’m not sure how much of a difference it’d make, but I note that Amazon sells the Nestle stuff under “Beverages, Powdered Drink Mixes” and the King Arthur under “Cooking & Baking, Condensed and Powdered Milk,” so they’re apparently making the distinction.

  2. Try Smitten Kitchen’s favorite brownies:

    I’ve been making these for years. So easy. Dirties one pot. (Also a few bowls if you do a mise en place and measure out everything beforehand.)

    No hard to find ingredients. No difficult directions.

    The brownies are just as good frozen, which is really too bad. I put them in the freezer thinking that I will not eat half a pan, I will not, this will get them out of my sight … and then I eat them frozen.

  3. Malted milk powder can be found in the bulk food section of any grocery store that goes into that sort of thing. Winco has it here in CA. It’s a haven for odd ingredients that you don’t want to invest in until you’re sure.

    Because of poor choices during the lockdown, I can only read about brownies for some time. Yours looks yummy and I would have eaten them all in their gooey uncooked state without shame..

  4. Permit me to be a bit snobbish on kosher salt. Cook’s Illustrated converted me to kosher salt years ago, so it’s all I use, unless the recipe specifically says fine salt. And I’m confident your store has it. Usually on the shelf just above the floor in the spices/salt section

  5. I am a fan of pretty much all brownies (note: except ones spoiled by the inclusion of nuts, which is all too many of them), but my preference is also for fudgy over cakey.

    My go-to recipe is the Black Hole Brownies of Death. I’ve taken these to many an occasion and rare indeed are the times I’ve taken any back home with me.

    Note: you can substitute one cup of wheat flour for the rice flour and corn starch. The batter after mixing will be very thick: you’ll probably need to dig it out of the bowl with a spatula and spread it around by hand. This is normal.

    When I make these I like to steal a trick from another fudgy brownie recipe, by Maida Heatter: pull out a sheet of aluminum foil, mold it to the underside of your pan, then flip it over and use it as a pan liner. Put some butter in it and stick it in the preheating oven to melt the butter, then spread the melted butter over the liner with a pastry brush — I don’t actually own a pastry brush so I always just use paper towels. This makes getting the brownies out of the pan for cutting hugely easier.

  6. I like brownies well enough, but my wife loves them. They’re the kind of treat we shouldn’t eat often, but the last time I made them I went Food Wishes-style.

    I really recommend this recipe. No fancy ingredients or techniques, just the right amounts in the right combinations, and it turns out great.

  7. The best piece of advice I was ever given was this: Always read the recipe out loud.
    Read the recipe. Read it again, only slower. Break it down & read it again, step by step, making sure you understand each step.
    If you spend more time getting to know your recipe, you’ll spend less time trying to fix it later.

  8. Might want to invest in a good oven thermometer. The dial on a home stove is usually ‘approximate’ and baking recipes are often formulated using a calibrated industrial oven. I learned that adding 20 degrees helps with mine.

  9. Also remember that the resting part of cooking, after removing from the heat, is still a part of the cooking process. Like letting a piece of meat rest, the heat is still working it’s magic.

  10. We got our malted milk powder from amazon (we needed it to finish recipes we’d skipped in one of our bread books during DH’s unemployment spells). You can also get it at brewery supply stores, I think. It has made bread products fluffier– like bread gets twice as big.

    Like the first commenter says, malted milk powder is just one of the ingredients in those Nestle drinks. Extra sugar is going to change the consistency of your baked good.

    I like the barefoot contessa’s brownies. The only weird ingredient is instant coffee! They are not chewy brownies (which is my favorite), but they are very fudgey and just so chocolate. I don’t know if there’s a youtube video, but the recipe is online all over the place.

  11. @peggyleslie WinCo has a lot of almost everything. We have one 20 min. away in Temecula.

    @Athena Sometimes the ethnic foods section might have what you seek. I like my brownies chewy, gooey, and nut-free. I’m on a soft diet due to dentist’s orders.

  12. With all the cooling and chilling the recipe called for, it’s possible your brownies were done the first time. So not straight up brownie batter but actually molten brownies.
    I prefer the “cakey” because I find the “fudgy” to be gummy.
    In general brownie recipes are incredibly forgiving, with huge room for sloppiness in all measurements. So your dad’s assessment of chocolate malt going into chocolate brownies being fine is true. But I don’t _ judge_ the recipe if I don’t follow the recipe.

  13. Can confirm that brownies are the choice of lazy bakers. One bowl (usually), a square (usually) baking pan, and a stirring implement is generally all that’s needed. I will forbear to transcribe the brownie recipe that I developed as a student 40 years ago and made so many times that it has never faded from memory.

    @Eric Stone

    And I’m confident your store has it. Usually on the shelf just above the floor in the spices/salt section

    Spoken like a city boy who has never shopped in a rural Midwestern county. Are there any Jewish people at all in Darke County OH?

    As for the “malted milk powder” discussion, screw all that. If you want malt-flavored brownies, use malt extract, or better yet maltose powder.

  14. Similar to Smitten Kitchen’s but with cocoa, and (I think) easier:
    Saucepan Brownies
    Grease an 8×8” or 9×9” or 11×7” pan. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. While the oven is heating:
    • Melt 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter or margarine in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
    • Stir in 6 Tbsp cocoa (I use a wire whisk)
    • Add 1 cup sugar
    • Add 1 tsp vanilla
    • When they are all mixed in, break and stir in 2 eggs, one at a time
    • Add 1/2 cup flour
    • Add a dash (about 1/8 tsp) salt and make sure everything is well mixed
    Scrape everything into the pan you greased. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until set. Enjoy!

  15. I have actually tried this recipe! I used King Arthur malted milk powder, otherwise followed the directions, and… didn’t love them.

    I’ve since realized that the King Arthur brownie mix makes my favorite brownies anyway, so I’ve given up trying to make brownies from scratch.

    And I grew up in Ohio, so shouldn’t be surprised by this, but seriously, there’s no kosher salt there? Huh.

  16. I prefer scratch made brownies because I want to stay away from preservatives used in boxed mixes.

    I have tried maybe sixty slightly different recipes and found that everyone of those was made by someone who was clueless, they came out good so they put on the interweb.

    I have found no difference between dutch process and regular cocoa. Four eggs and a yolk is not different enough from three eggs to mean squat.

    Carnation Malted milk gets lost in the mix, but it is all I can find locally, even though Tampa has a lot of specialty grocers.

    One tip I do use. After the brownies coll a bit, cram them in the fridge for a half of a hour, that allows you to cut them pretty well.

    Fudgy for the win.

  17. I love to experiment and dabble with recipes, however, one thing I have learned is that when baking you have to follow the recipe to the letter unless you absolutely know what you are doing. Baking is a science, dabble at your own peril.

    As for kosher salt, chemically it is the same but its shape makes it easier to handle by hand and it “melts” into whatever you are adding easier than regular table salt.

    Brownies should be soft and chewy any other way is just wrong and you are a bad person if you disagree.

  18. Kosher salt is only kosher in a historical sense. Much more commonly used for salt grinders and baking (ours goes to bread.) Small rural stores are iffy, although we never had any challenge getting it in Socorro, NM (8K people) so it can’t be too rare.

    Since everyone has a recipe to contribute, I’ll throw in mine — except it’s actually a recipe mod and likely to involve a real ingredient chase.

    Take your ordinary brownie recipe, doesn’t much matter which.
    * Replace whatever water it calls for with coffee. Dark is better, espresso is best. BTW, this works for pretty near every chocolate recipe. Your Dad would probably go nuts with it.
    * To the oil, add 1/8 tsp of powdered chipotles. NOT “Chipotle powder,” which too often includes a bunch of other stuff. The quantity is crucial: even 1/4 tsp will render the brownies inedible (and I love chilis).
    * Also to the oil add ~1/4 tsp cinnamon powder. Again, don’t increase the amount unless you want to risk ruining the batch.

    Bake as usual.

    Now, for those who are put off by the chilies, the chocolate/chili combo is older than the USA and a staple of much Mexican cooking. The trick is to avoid having the chilies dominate; they’re supposed to add a warm note to the chocolate. I’ve been bringing these to get-togethers for 20 years and challenging people to identify the additions. Nobody has figured it out yet, but everybody raves for the brownies.

    Have fun, enjoy!

  19. For anything baking, I highly recommend King Arthur Flour Company’s recipes. They test the hell out of everything, then proofread them to death. That’s why KAF cookbooks are the only cookbooks I’ll buy without extensively field-testing first.

    Their Cookie Cookbook has multiple recipes for brownies, including a specifically fudgy one (my fave) and a specifically cakey one.

    To make any brownie recipe even fudgier, add 1/3 – 1/2 c. chocolate syrup to it.

  20. I’m very much on the side of fudgy brownies… like you, if I wanted cake, I’d get cake. ;-) Honestly, looking at the picture you posted of them right out of the oven, they looked pretty much the way I like brownies.

  21. Ah, the old too impatient to let the food rest so it turns into mush when you cut it. This is me and every pie, lasagne, or eggplant parmesan I have ever made. Dutch process and natural process cocoa are different, have different flavors, and are used with different leavening agents. Here is the link to an article on Serious Eats, with pictures, that explains this:
    Or you could just google it.

  22. Lol. Everyone has a favorite. This sounds awesome. Claire and BA’s videos got me through lockdown!! Pre the whole BA mess.
    My favorite of late has been
    Ina Garten’s ‘Outrageous Brownies’.
    But geez, is there really a bad brownie?

  23. Not that it helps with spur of the moment baking, but both King Arthur Baking and are good sources for ingredients like malted milk powder that an average grocery store might not have.

    On cocoa, it really doesn’t matter hugely what kind you use; you’ll get a different flavor if it’s natural vs. Dutch processed, but it won’t ruin your brownies.

  24. I suggest that you get an oven thermometer and calibrate the oven. You have had problems previously with things not being done when they were supposed to be. Your oven temp may differ significantly from what the knob is pointing to.

    Also you can order any kind of exotic ingredients on Amazon or, if you dislike Amazon, some other site, if you can’t find something in the store. We do this all the time at our house. Beats heck out of driving around burning gasoline and daylight looking for that one ingredient needed to complete the recipe.

  25. Seconding David Goldfarb on the “mold the foil on the outside of the pan to get the right shape”, though I always use spray grease rather than butter to lubricate my baking.

    Honestly, I am a super-snob when it comes to baking, and for years I tried all the fancy brownie recipes, Cook’s Illustrated, King Arthur, etc.

    And then I realized that’s not what I want out of a brownie. What I want out of a brownie is a time machine to a school bake sale. (My mom is an amazing cook and baker, but somehow brownies were never her thing, so we rarely had them at home.) So I get the Ghirardelli brownie mix at Costco, and sometimes if I’m feeling very fancy I put a handful of dried cherries in the batter.

    (Cook’s Illustrated actually explains how hard it is to get the just-right ratio of fats for a perfect chewy-fudgy brownie, and how that’s easy for a mix and a real pain for a recipe, which explains why their recipe has so many ingredients. It was also pretty clear that some of them were annoyed at how many people prefer box brownies.)

    It’s been my experience, as a well-seasoned home baker, that recipes from pastry chefs are always a bit dicey, just because they have a very high level of expertise (and serious forearm strength) that doesn’t always translate through the written recipe.

  26. I like a nice soft brownie with no nuts.

    I’ve never had trouble finding kosher salt at the grocery store, but as of the last time I bothered to check there’s four synagogues in my city. I guess it wouldn’t be as common in a rural area (unless the grocery owner is a foodie).

  27. Thing is, kosher salt shouldn’t even be a foodie thing. If you’re prepping a steak for the grill you want to hit it with some kosher salt and pepper and the kosher salt gives you better results than table salt. And I’d like to think that even rural areas want to have good steaks.

  28. Aaron Doukas:

    If you’re prepping a steak for the grill you want to hit it with some kosher salt and pepper and the kosher salt gives you better results than table salt.

    And that’s why it’s “kosher” salt: it’s the right grain size to draw out the last bit of blood from meat. Which also gets it to the right moisture level for grilling without adding a lot of salt.

    It also is pure salt, meaning no additives like iodine. Which matters for a lot of things you wouldn’t expect it to, like baking bread.

  29. Athena – You are so right! Brownies should be fudgy. There’s no reason for cakey ones to exist.

    So – here’s a simple recipe for yummy fudgy brownies, with no hard to find ingredients.

    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup flour
    6 tablespoons dry cocoa
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter
    Optional extras (use any, all, or none of these) –
    1/2 cup nuts
    1/2 cup chocolate chips
    1/2 tsp mint extract

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch square pan. Stir the sugar, flour, and cocoa together.

    Melt the butter. Mix the butter and eggs into the dry ingredients. If you’re using any of the optional extras, stir them in at this point.

    The mixture will be moist but thick. (Or, thick but moist.) Spread the batter in the pan. Bake for half an hour. The brownies should pull away from the sides of the pan slightly, and if you touch the top of the brownies gently it will feel like there’s a thin, fragile crust on top. (Because, when they’re completely baked, there is a thin fragile crust.)

    These brownies won’t be nearly as gloppy fresh out of the oven as the ones you showed, but it’s a good idea to let them cool before eating them.

  30. Honestly, I tried this recipe and wasn’t thrilled with it either. There will be more recipes and they will go better! Every new attempt is something new you’ve learned and can apply next time.

  31. As with everything on this blog, I got my opinion

    kosher salt being significantly coarser and in many dishes a noticeable improvement… you can buy a five pound box and take ten years to use it up… salt’s shelf life measured in decades…

    brownies too dry? too hard? simply grind ’em into powdery bits and toss atop of ice cream …or in my case frozen chunks of bananananana — when will I learn how to spell that frigging fruit’s name!? — in a blender with orange peel and whole milk and some form of chocolate… powdered baking chocolate or in a daring experiment that went horribly great, powdery bits of overaged brownies… my girlfriend tried the first sip and locked herself in the bathroom (NYC studio apt) with the quart and half full blender and refused to share it… she scraped the blender clean with a fingernail… she described it as a chewie smoothie… and you know that essay JS wrote about his wife having a torrid affair with DBC? it played out much the same for me that afternoon… or rather, much the same for my girlfriend… I tried it recipe by myself, not bad just not that over-the-moon but its that X vs Y thing I guess…

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