A Bwog tradition is back for the 2014-2015 year – and we’re kicking it off with a classic treat…and with new definitions of  the gender roles this title insinuates, because feminism. Foodies Ross Chapman (the champion male taking on this challenge) and Anastasiya Vasilyeva spent their weekend scouring our beloved Morningside to discern the best brownie around. 

Ah, the noble brownie. While its dense and flavorful experience combined with its relative ease of baking makes it a household favorite, it’s surprisingly hard to find in the sprawling MoHi neighborhood. The brownie loses in sophistication to the cake and falls in portability to the cookie, so the major institutions ignore our tasty friend. We will not let this stand. 2Girls (yes, we’ll still call ourselves 2Girls) ventured out onto cold, harsh Amsterdam Avenue to find the best the neighborhood has to offer.

Kitchenette, 123rd & Amsterdam ($5.45)

Kitchenette Cinderblock

It just looks… crusty

The overpriced cinderblock. The loud thump with which this thing hit its plate served as our first warning, but we battled on with our useless fork and knife. After filing away for quite a while, creating a pile of brown dust on the surface, we settled for brute force, which barely broke off a few pieces of this rock. Needless to say, this “brownie” did not stimulate the senses. It consisted of what seemed like pure cocoa butter with an overbearing number of stony chocolate chips. This thing’s large size might be redeeming, if it had tasted even slightly better than a piece of gravel. It didn’t. We suggest trying one of the other, seemingly much more appealing, dessert options at the charming, pastel kitchenette cafe. There’s nowhere to go but up.

2Girls Rating: 1 sad, crusty cinderblock out of 5

Brownie’s Café, Avery Hall ($2.35)

Isn't That a Redundant Title?

Something about it seems…unnatural

Did you know that there’s a café buried beneath Avery and Fayerweather? It looks a lot like a basement with its general lack of decor. The place takes neither credit cards nor Dining Dollars, but redeems itself with (relatively) low prices. The brownie (labelled with a “Kabir’s Bakery” sticker) seemed to worsen as we ate it. It felt pleasantly squishy and molten at first, but with our subsequent bites, the brownie became more reminiscent of a moist chocolate gel. The crust saved the texture a bit, but there wasn’t much of it. After a few minutes the brownie seemed to develop a shine at its sides. The taste was pretty bitter compared to everything else we had. In one word: artificial. All that being said, the texture did make it interesting to eat, and it might be better with walnuts or chocolate chips inside–other options available the café.

2Girls Rating: 2.5 unnatural chocolate gelatins out of 5

Hungarian Pastry Shop, 111th & Amsterdam ($3.85)

Brownie or cake? A slice of brownie cake?

Brownie or cake? A slice of brownie cake?

We’re cheating here. Despite a number of recommendations to go to this Morningside Heights institution, they don’t actually serve brownies here, so we selected the dessert that looked the most like one. It turned out to be a flourless chocolate cake. Even with this handicap, the Hungarian confection was an absolute treat. This big boy is decidedly not a brownie. It is light, with an almost aerated texture on the inside, making it perfect to pick at during a sophisticated, sit-down dessert. The cake is sweet, but much subtler than anything else we tried. Perhaps the one downside was the cocoa powder sprinkled on top of the cake which dried our mouths (1girl liked this Tiramisu-style feature, though; she took this slice home). It might have been the best thing we tried, but we had to dock a half point for clearly being out of our preferred category.

2Girls Rating: 4 definitely not brownies out of 5

Insomnia Cookies, 111th & Amsterdam ($3.00)

It’s…a good brownie!

Perfect. The balanced taste and texture here required true art, especially compared to the Kitchenette and Brownie’s failures. This beauty enveloped our taste buds with the sweetest flavor, as well as a clearly distinguishable, and much appreciated, pinch of salt. The light, slightly crunchy crust finely balanced its chewy, dense inside. The thick, smooth chips provided a much needed contrast for Kitchenette’s rocks, and, most importantly, Insomnia offers the option of adding extra calories via an abundant selection of toppings! 1girl ordered one with a hefty chunk of cookie dough soon after. This snack is no homemade treat, but it is by far the best in the area, from what we saw. Feel free to explore the rest of NYC and leave better suggestions in the comments!

2Girls Rating: 4.5 proper brownies out of 5