Friday, May 20, 2011
Market O Real Brownie
I've been seeing big boxes of these "Market O Real Brownies" at Costco for quite some time. One of my students even bought a case of them while she was there and only later realized that as a petite single woman, she might be eating them for the next two years. I wasn't going to gamble on a big box of an untested baked item, no matter how grandiose it's claim is about producing a "real" brownie. Brownies are very difficult to get right even when fresh, and it's that much harder when they're packaged to be shelf stable.
Because I have the chance to buy these slightly cheaply at Costco, I jumped at the chance to buy just one 35-gram (1.2 oz.) serving for 120 yen ($1.35) at 7-11. Note that though these are being heavily marketed in Japan, they are produced in Korea. The scribbly characters on the front of the package are Korean, not Japanese, but all of the information on the back of the package is in Japanese (not a sticker over a Korean label, but originally done in Japanese). So, we have a Korean brownie with Japanese packaging and clip art depicting a Western woman and her kid around 1950. These are cross-cultural brownies.
The brownie is nicely chocolatey, but quite sweet. It has a strange aftertaste that may be associated with preservatives. It tastes like a chalky version of actual chocolate as opposed to an actual brownie. It's lacking in that quintessential "baked" flavor of a brownie. The small brownie has 173 calories, which is pretty dense for such a relatively small morsel, but not out of line for something made with butter and sugar.
I can certainly make a much better brownie than this, but that's not really the question. The question is whether or not this would satisfy you if you wanted a brownie in Tokyo and couldn't or didn't want to make your own. The answer is that "it might". It really depends on where you place the bar for your brownies and how you like them. This is dense and somewhat rich without being very fudgey or moist. It's certainly better than most of the brownies you can buy in bakeries in Japan, which tend to be closer to dry cake than an actual brownie. In fact, compared to a standard bakery brownie, this is actually quite good. It just doesn't come close to a homemade brownie or one made from a Western-made mix, but if I was jonesing for a brownie to accompany a cup of coffee, I'd choose this over any of the other available convenient options. I wouldn't buy a case of them, but I'd pick up another single brownie if I was in the right mood.