For years, what we’ve been calling the Magic Brownie has been by far the Bakehouse’s biggest seller. While the Magic Brownies remain solidly ensconced at the top of the Bakehouse sales chart, I will come clean here and say that, far and away, my new favorite is the Townie Brownie.
The Townie Brownie got its start as part of our effort to make a wheat-free brownie to meet the dreams of our gluten-free customers. It worked. We use amaranth and quinoa in place of wheat and it’s been a solidly good brownie since its beginnings back in 2010. What made it so much better last month than it already was? Better chocolate, from French Broad Chocolate.
The newly French-Broadified Brownies are beautifully tasty. Less sweet, more complex, longer finish, and meaningfully more chocolatey. The new chocolate is one of the French Broad folks’ favorites. It’s a 68% dark bar made with cacao that comes from the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua using both Criollo and Trinitario cacao varietals, which have been caringly cultivated for generations. French Broad buys the cacao from the folks at Cacao Bisiesto in Nicaragua who, “pay a premium to local farmers for unique, Criollo-infused seed with fine flavor profiles, and plant rare varietals on their own farms.” Criollo, you might recall from last week’s writeup about Shawn Askinosie’s amazing collaboration with Zeke Emmanuel, “are considered the rarest and finest cacao.”
The folks at Cacao Bisiesto work too to help the farmers improve fermentation and drying. The result is that the 68% Nicaragua chocolate from French Broad won a Good Food Award!
If you want to try the slightly smoky, earthy, licorice-like flavors of the French Broad Nicaragua on its own, you can pick up the bar at the Candy Store on Plaza Drive. And you can enjoy them—maybe even more—baked into the Townie Brownie. We’ve got them at the Bakeshop, Deli, and Roadhouse. You can ask for one in your Brownie Sundae at the Roadhouse. The Townie Brownies are also amazingly excellent if you dip the edge into finely-ground (and not yet brewed) espresso.
In our 2032 Vision (see “The Story of Visioning at Zingerman’s” for the full version of the vision), we write that ten years from now, “Our dedication to the Ann Arbor area is a huge piece of what makes us who we are.” In this context, it’s only fitting that the Townie Brownie should become our best. It’s a terrific, values-aligned, full flavored, and delicious testament to the skill and hard work of the farmers in Nicaragua, the folks at French Broad Chocolate, and our amazing colleagues at the Bakehouse. Here’s to our hometown, to all the townies who support us so lovingly here at Zingerman’s, and to this terrifically tasty Townie Brownie!
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Sign up for Ari’s Top 5 enewsletter to hear more from Ari every week!
- Read more about French Broad Chocolate
- Visit us at the Bakeshop to pick up one or six.
- Better still, let us ship some for you from coast to coast.