by Claire Barley | @clairembarley
Between doughnuts, cronuts, cruffins and cookie sandwiches, Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to sugary treats.
In the past, the humble brownie may have been overlooked in lieu of its on-trend cake peers. However, this delicious union of chocolate and cake has recently been given a makeover by Julie Cooke, owner of The Brownie Bar.
Melbourne’s first chocolate brownie café, the recently opened Brownie Bar serves up chocolatey, fudgey goodness seven days a week right in Melbourne’s CBD.
An RMIT grad herself, Julie studied home economics before beginning a career in retail. In recent years her love of baking drove her to start her own business.
“I always wanted to have my own little food place,” says Julie. “I fell into retail and management and then never followed the food dream. But I started selling sweet things at farmers markets, and then it just grew from there.”
Whilst she started off selling a range of baked goodies, Julie’s brownies were a clear crowd favourite. She started selling them at festivals and events, including the Royal Melbourne Show, for which she cooked thousands of brownies equipped solely with her humble home kitchen.
She tells us the secret to the perfect brownie is in the cooking time, and whatever that ideal period is, she’s nailed it. At once gooey and soft, her brownies strike a perfect balance between crumble and fudge.
After originally setting up shop in McKinnon, Julie decided to move to a more central location in the Hub Arcade on Little Collins Street- just far enough away from campus to burn a few extra sugar calories on the walk there.
The Brownie Bar’s rotating menu features many different variations on the classic brownie recipe, including raspberry, salted caramel, mars bar and hazelnut. The café also boasts a coffee machine and an ice cream freezer, allowing us to pair the salted caramel brownie we sample with salted caramel ice cream. For those who want to spread the brownie love (or simply stock up on more brownies for later consumption, because #treatyoself), packaged brownies can also be purchased. Look no further for the perfect companion to your morning coffee. Or pre-breakfast, post lunch, pre-dinner, dessert…
The Brownie Bar is open 7 days a week, located at Shop 1A, The Hub Arcade, 318-322 Little Collins Street.
Photography: Nathan Brown