The Germans know many things: how to make an incredible spicy mustard (Bautz’ner), how to make a dry Riesling and how to laugh at others’ pain (we’ve taken the word, Schadenfreude, for ourselves) but what they arguably fall flat on is the kind of beautifully sugar-laden desserts Americans know and love.

Take the simple brownie, with its two varieties, fudgey or cakey.

The concept is foreign to many Germans and the concepts fudgey or cakey are hard to translate and explain.

The befuddlement has part of its roots in nomenclature, which is ultimately derived from Germany’s baking culture.

When Germans talk about many an English-speaking baked good, the word is always Kuchen, regardless if its a pie, a cobbler, a crisp or brownies.

Most of these do not exist in the German-speaking world, or if they do, they are more often an offshoot of proper cakes and tortes and not true pies, cobblers, crisps or brownies.

When I baked brownies for my guest-family, for dinner parties or my fellow foreigner students, everyone was inevitably confused. A good kind of confused. But confused nonetheless.

Like most recipes I use, I’ve modified my brownies recipe. In Germany, I lowered the sugar content because of their sensitivity to sweets. When I came back state-side, the change stuck.

I use whole-wheat flour instead of bleached white and I up the cocoa powder.

Speaking of powder, I either using dark cocoa powder or a combination of darker cocoa and a lighter works best. Light cocoa powder just doesn’t punch or have that dark-chocolate taste.

I line the baking pan with parchment paper so I can just pull the whole thing out. If one chooses not to use parchment paper, grease the pan.

BEFUDDLED BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1 cup oil, vegetable, Canola, etc.

11⁄2 cups sugar

1+ tablespoon(s) vanilla extract

4 eggs

11⁄2 cups whole wheat flour

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11⁄3 cups cocoa powder

11⁄2 cups chocolate chips or morsels

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine oil, sugar, vanilla extract. Beat the 4 eggs and then add them to the oil-sugar mix. Mix until combined.

3. Sift the cocoa powder and flour and mix. Mix the two until well combined and then add to the oil-sugar combination and mix until all the cocoa powder and flour are mixed in.

4. Mix in the chocolate.

5. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the parchment paper and bake for 32-38 minutes. Brownie should not jiggle too much. Let cool. Baking for less time will be more fudgey and more will be more cakey.

(Recipe adapted from Brooke’s Best Bombshell Brownies on allrecipes.com.)

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