| Sweets |

The Breadth of the Brownie Bowl

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About a month ago, I assembled a list of what I considered to be the five best brownies to be had in Houston. Absent from the list were any of the many brownie varieties available at The Brownie Bowl, whose owner wistfully commented:

I hope to make it on this list one day :). I'm a brownie baker and proud of it!

Who wouldn't be touched by such sweet aspirations? Not even this grouchy food blogger. I decided I needed to visit The Brownie Bowl. Maybe their brownie baker deserved acclamation one day and maybe that day should be sooner rather than later.

The Brownie Bowl certainly expands on the traditional definition of the brownie, offering flavors such as raspberry, cream cheese swirl, walnut and peanut butter. They also let you create your own brownie via a combination of mix-ins (nuts, mini marshmallows, cereal, dried fruit, cookies, potato chips, sprinkles, etc.) and swirl-ins (butterscotch, fudge, fruit reductions, peanut butter, etc.). All brownies are sold in squares by the dozen or in the form of 18 brownie bites.

As its name might suggest, The Brownie Bowl also specializes in bowls made out of brownies that you can buy "bare" (4 for $12) or with toppings (4 for $20). According to the Web site, I can fill brownie bowls with anything I like. Well then. I'll be using them to eat clam chowder, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and, of course, ice cream.

A big FYI (and something I missed from my initial scan of the Web site) is that the Brownie Bowl does not have a storefront and requires one to three days of notice for all orders. Tant pis, as I had excitedly envisioned a cute shop filled with tray after tray of brownies. I placed an order for a Classic Sampler (choice of two "classic" flavors for $17) with milk and dark chocolate brownie. I was tempted to order something more decadent, but I think the best test of any bakery is to sample its simplest wares.

The 24-hour wait was worth it, as was the drive to meet friendly Brownie Bowl owner Melissa to pick up my package. Slightly cakey, but still dense, rich but not overpowering, the brownies were top-notch and only improved by a moderate amount of chocolate glaze. (Melissa obviously knows there can be a fine line between chocolate cake and frosted brownie and she toes this line well.) Although I generally prefer milk chocolate, I've found (and Melissa's wares confirm this preference) that dark chocolate is the way to go.

I wish The Brownie Bowl delivered. But then again, thank God they don't. I'd eat myself out of house and home.

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