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Problems with brownies

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CarrieLee86's picture
CarrieLee86

Problems with brownies

Hey all!

I've been baking for awhile; cakes, cookies, souffles, and recently bread.  But the one thing that has always eluded me?  Brownies!  Unless using a box mix, they never turn out right.  I just tried a new recipe (http://beautifulmess46.blogspot.in/2012/11/twd-best-ever-brownies.html), and while they taste brownie-like, they look more like cake.  I want dense, fudgy brownies.

My best guess is that I'm over mixing? But I used a spatula and folded the ingredients together until just barely incorporated.  I'm not sure what else could be the problem.  Any advice, suggestions, or new recipes to try?

Thanks!

yy's picture
yy

Hi CarrieLee86

In my experience, overmixing is not what leads to cakelike brownies. Here are some factors that in my experience contribute to a denser texture:

1. Use fewer eggs. In the recipe you linked, there are 4 eggs, which will make the texture fluffy.

2. Use a combination of butter and oil. The oil helps make the brownies moister and chewier.

3. Don't use too much flour.

Here is a recipe you can try (makes a 9x13 pan):

4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar*
½ cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil**
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 Tbsp + 1 tsp Dutch Processed cocoa***
2 large whole eggs****
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz unbleached All Purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Large pinch of salt
Opt: bittersweet/semisweet chocolate chips

Variations:
* Can use a mixture of brown and white sugar (see notes below)
** Add a couple Tbsp or so vegetable oil for an even denser, moister texture
*** Can use unsweetened natural cocoa as well. Use less cocoa for a mellower flavor.
**** Add an additional egg for a fluffier texture.

Preheating the Oven: 325 °F for glass or dark metal pans, 350 °F for regular metal pans

Preparation:

  1. Combine butter and sugar in a medium sized microwaveable bowl. Microwave until butter is melted (around 1-2 min).
  2. Once butter is melted, stir the mixture until sugar and butter are incorporated. Mixture may be very lumpy at this point
  3. Return mixture to microwave and heat until butter begins to foam (around 1-2 min).
  4. In a large bowl over a double boiler, combine cocoa, chocolate, and vegetable oil. Heat until mixture is melted and homogenous.
  5. Stir the butter/sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture. Stir well to combine. The batter will be grainy at this point. There should be no large lumps of sugar
  6. Add vanilla, whole eggs and egg yolks to the batter. Stir well to combine. The batter should thicken and the sugar should melt completely as you stir. The end result should be thick, dark, shiny, and free of lumps.
  7.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt to batter. Stir until batter is homogenous
  8. If adding chocolate chips, coat chips in flour, and wait to stir in until the rest of the batter has been prepared. Wait for batter to cool a bit so that the chips do not completely melt when stirred in
  9. Pour/spread batter into a pan greased and/or lined with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for around 30-40 minutes or until the brownies have set.

Notes:

  • It is important to melt the sugar as much as possible. Baker’s Sugar tends to form lumps, but mixture of brown and regular granulated sugar tends to melt better.
  • Batter thickens considerably as it cools down. Try to pour while it’s still warm.
merlie's picture
merlie

Hi CarrieLee86,

I always get lovely sticky chocolatey brownies with this easy recipe:

1/2 cup soft margarine

1cup white sugar

3/4 cup AP flour

5 generous teaspoons cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

Mix all together with a fork. Place in 8x8 greased pan and bake at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes. ( careful not to over cook )

Recipe can be doubled for larger pan. Good luck - Merlie

Felila's picture
Felila

You can make these with just one pot, on the stove, and a wire whisk and spatula. 8 x 8 pan for baking. Easy and fast. Delicious. 

Smitten Kitchen brownies

Makes one 8×8 pan of brownies

 3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray. OR, just butter the pan.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

The most important thing to do to keep brownies- any recipe- from being too cake-like is to slightly underbake them.  They should bake to an internal temp (taken in the center of the center with an instant read thermometer) of about 182-185F, while cakes generally go to 195-200F.  

Maeve's picture
Maeve

and used the recipe on the back of the can.  I wanted to use whole wheat and found that I had to up the flour amount a bit(original recipe calls for 2/3 cup flour), but otherwise, this is my go-to brownie recipe.

This is my version:

2 large eggs

3/4 cups sugar (6 ounces)

1 tsp vanilla (I use strong vanilla)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces Sweet Ground Chocolate

5 ounces whole wheat flour ( I use white whole wheat)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla; add melted butter.  Sift sweet ground chocolate with flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into egg mixture, add nuts and chips.  Spread into greased 8 or 9 inch baking dish.  (I use a small rectangle baking dish, but I don't know the exact dimensions offhand)  Bake 20 to 30 minutes.  (My oven, it's usually 25 minutes)

 

I recently used the advice from a Smitten Kitchen recipe and lined the baking dish with parchment paper.  That's a great tip.

 

Cob's picture
Cob

Hate brownies myself, too dense and muddy for me, but I've noticed addition of a chemical leavener makes a massive difference to texture.

Put it in, and you end up with something, airier, drier, and more cakey.

 

Leave it out, and you'll have cottony, heavy pap. A brownie, I believe!

 

It's amazing looking at all the different recipes, some use it, some don't,

pepperhead212's picture
pepperhead212

If you like dense, fudgy brownies, Maida Heatter's Palm Beach Brownies in her Book of Great Chocolate Desserts is one of the absolute best.  And another one, the Salty Caramel Brownies in the fantastic book Baked Explorations, by Lewis and Poliafito.  The caramel brownies are the ones most often requested when I am taking something to a get together.  Funny thing is, they are made totally differently, as far as the batter, as the Palm Beach recipe calls for beating the sugar and eggs for 10 min., until they are almost white, before adding the rest, one by one.  The Caramels call for melting the chocolates together with the butter, and stirring the rest in by hand - the way I usually make the Palm Beach, as well.  They are both so sticky and gooey that you almost have to refrigerate them to slice them, and the chocolate flavor is do die for.  I have no will power with these things, so I can only bake them when I take them somewhere!

Dave

Check your PM, Carrie!