A square brownie from The Fresh Market and a round brownie from Publix.

Friday Food Fight: Little Round Brownies vs. Big Square Brownies

Brownies, the dessert of the gods — along with coconut custard pie, New York cheesecake, cannolis, tollhouse cookies, lemon squares, cheese danish, double chocolate gelato, pumpkin pie and bread pudding. 

But back to brownies. They come in different shapes, sizes, flavors and textures. Some are dense, but not too dense — otherwise you have fudge. Some are airy but not too airy — otherwise you have cupcakes, which should be outlawed, even for 8-year-olds.

Brownies should not come in any other flavor than chocolate. Adding walnuts or chocolate chips is okay — not my preference — but brownies should never have icing. The gooey topping makes you want to use a fork. You don’t use a fork to eat a brownie. 

This week’s Friday Food Fight pits the little round brownies at Publix against the big square brownies at The Fresh Market. As an aside, I originally planned to have the Publix brownie rounds go up against the sea-salt brownie bites at Trader Joe’s, but the latter has been discontinued. This makes me sad.

Let the brownie battle begin! Wait — before we start: If you try this at home, please use milk as your beverage.

LITTLE ROUND BROWNIES FROM PUBLIX

Appearance: Cute. About the circumference of a silver dollar. At first glance, it looks like there are 40 of them in the hard plastic box. A bottomless brownie bin. There’s actually 11. Eleven? Why not a dozen. There’s definitely room for one more.

Eleven little round brownies. Really? Not 12?

Value: $2.99 for 10.5 ounces. A very good value.

Access: Don’t try to open the package with just your hands. You will wind up throwing it against the wall and spraying brownie guts all over your kitchen. The brownies are trapped in there, surrounded by a very stubborn plastic security wrap. Do yourself a favor and use a knife. Or a box cutter. Or a jackhammer.

You’ll need tools to get the package open.

Texture: These babies have a nice crispy shell. If you listen closely enough, they make a crackling sound when you break them in two. And I do recommend breaking them in two. The innards are moist, and as you chew you’ll continue to get that crunch. In all, a terrific textural combo.

A crispy shell makes for a brownie with a wonderfully complex texture.

Taste: A very balanced level of chocolate intensity. Approaching sublime.

BIG SQUARE BROWNIES FROM THE FRESH MARKET

Appearance: Hearty and rustic. One large slab of brownie cut into squares — but not completely, so it looks as if they’d recently been pulled from the oven, cooled and put in a white cardboard box, bakery-style. This is not the case. I grabbed my package from a cart, and it was cold, as if just removed from a refrigerator.

Bakery-style

Value: $5.99 for 12 ounces. Not nearly as good a value as the Publix bites.

Access: Simply run your thumbnail through a thin plastic closure with the price tag on it and open the box. No tools necesary. 

Simply slit the plastic closure and open the box.

Texture: These biggies are thick. When you break off a piece, it makes no sound. A thin layer of crust makes way for a dense and chewy bite, yet somehow this big square brownie is not as moist as I’d like. A bit too cake-y.

A little cake-y.

Taste: Chocolate intensity is on the low side. Approaching bland.

THE DECISION

An easy one. The little round brownies from Publix are superior in taste, texture and value — even if liberating them from the plastic container might grind you to your last nerve.