The fudge report: The 8 best mail-order brownies

everyone loves the smell of freshly baked brownies coming out of the oven. but some of the best ones can also show up in your mailbox, if you know where to look.

America’s Test Kitchen tasters just sampled brownies from 8 leading mail-order gourmet bakers. they ordered brownie assortments and rated each company’s basic brownie. in addition, the tasters tried the most unusual flavors in each assortment. some of the brownies were a revelation, others just good. here are the results, in order of preference (prices do not include shipping, which will add $7 to $20):

BakedPrice: $38.00 for 8 individually wrapped browniestasters rated this bakery’s original deep dark from brooklyn as the top basic goblin. unique varieties, such as spicy (with chiles and cinnamon) and sweet and salty (with caramel and fleur de sel), were also a hit. the brown matte box with white ribbon is simple but modern. expensive, but these brownies are great.www.bakedshop.com

browniesfromnew yorkprice: $36.00 for 12 individually wrapped browniesthis company’s original brownie from a Long Island finished in second place. tasters thought other varieties (such as butterscotch and peanut butter) were good, if a bit pedestrian. The brownies come in an elegant white box with an elegant silver bow. good value for money, with a dozen oversized brownies.www.newyorkbrownies.com

zingermans price: $50.00 for 10 individually wrapped brownies

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The assortment at this well-known gourmet store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, didn’t include a plain brownie (magic brownies have nuts), but tasters didn’t seem to mind. the buenos aires brownies (with dulce de leche) were a big hit, as were the orange and almond flavored brownies. a huge, whimsically patterned cardboard box contained only 10 medium-sized brownies, a bit disappointing given the size of the box and the high price tag.www.zingermans.com

mary louise butter browniesprice: $44.00 for 12 individually wrapped brownies, plus 2 packages of brownie butts (crisp brownie edges)

This austin, texas-based baker scores points for originality. the unusual flavors (including rose oil, port, and stout) and fun names, like Aztec god (with chipotle peppers) and black beer (with beer), were more intriguing than the brownies themselves. however, the mint-flavored mental julep brownies lived up to the billing. retro art deco packaging complete with a sheer red organza bag makes for a stylish gift.www.buttersbrownies.com

dancing deer baking co. price: $34.50 for 4 bags with 4 brownies each

This well-known Boston baked goods company’s sturdy, reusable wooden crate is filled with four retail-style packages that look like something you might buy at the grocery store. pretty standard flavors and the brownies were slightly dry and crumbly. Decent brownies at a decent price, but it’s hard to get excited about this assortment.www.dancingdeer.com

Fairy Tale BrowniesPrice: $59.95 for 12 individually wrapped brownies, plus 2 dessert sauces

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This Phoenix-based company describes itself as “the nation’s largest mail-order gourmet brownie company.” The faux suede box with leather trim and elegant purple satin bow make this an especially attractive gift option. the “original” brownie fared so-so in the tasting, but our panel was most enthused by the decadent raspberry swirl brownies.www.brownies.com

sans souciprice: $30.00 for 2 sleeves with 6 brownies each

It looks like a high-end brown and pink box with the embossed logo might contain truffles. instead, each box (one order contains two boxes) protects a single bag of six brownies. This little pastry chef calls his staple brownies marquis bars, and they were more like a cross between a flourless chocolate cake and a truffle. too rich for most tasters who didn’t think they were real brownies. www.sanssouciconfections.net

fat witchprice: $40.00 for 16 individually wrapped brownies

nice name and logo, but the metallic cardboard box the brownies came in seemed pretty cheap and flimsy. We ordered the brownies a la carte and had eight interesting varieties to choose from. we liked that each one was individually wrapped and had creative names (like red witch made with dried cherries), but ultimately these brownies were just average.www.fatwitch.com

Interested in making your own brownies? Check out the following recipes from giada de laurentiis, nigella lawson, and ellen carroll that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth:

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pagebreakdiscover recipes from giada and nigella… true

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