We're often asked what does it take to achieve the best brownies. The answer is a little more complicated than at first glance. Everyone's idea of the best brownie can vary. Some people love a cakey brownie while others like a fudgy brownie. Some like chewy brownies and some like to split the difference and go somewhere in between. Very important is the brownie recipe and the ingredients however the method and baking conditions also play a significant role in the final outcome.
Brownie recipes are an art and a science. Though the brownie recipe has only a few core ingredients, how those ingredients are varied makes a huge difference. Substituting the core brownie recipe ingredients also matter and will change the taste and texture of your brownie. Of course if your brownie texture changes then so too does its' appearance.
I'm not a fan of flat brownies but I see their value and understand that the ingredients that make it flat might also be the reason for its amazing taste and texture. No brownie judgement here - all brownies in my mind are great.
Your choice of brownie recipe, inclusions, substitutions, methodology and baking will make a difference to the sweet treat your finally serve.
Here are 5 decisions you can make to achieve the best brownies:
These are two different fats. In my books butter is always better though a brownie recipe using margarine will most probably make a lighter brownie. For a richer, fuller brownie always use butter. In fact I am a big fan of the old ad line "only butter, butters". Having said that Bien and our daughters recently did a cooking class for fun online. They made traditional Portuguese Tarts with a woman in Portugal. She insisted on margarine for her Portuguese Tarts. A little surprised as I heard that but was so impressed when they were baked. Fabulous. For brownies though I still think butter is best.
I know a lot of people bake brownies with cup measurements. For me the best brownies are made by weighing the ingredients. In fact, all our baking is done with weights and not cup measures. Baking is in many ways a science and with that requires accuracy. Weighing the ingredients for your brownie is the way to better baking results.
Firstly baking great brownies is about having the right size of dish for your mixture. If you're using a brownie recipe with a baking time and temperature, be sure to choose the brownie baking dish that is right for those cooking conditions. Too big or too small dish will cause problems with your brownie.
Whether you choose a glass or metal dish to bake your brownies will impact on the texture of your brownie. A glass dish will transmit heat through your brownie very evenly and your brownie will have a more consistent texture from outside to inside. A metal brownie dish on the other hand will heat up the brownie faster but tend to heat the outer edges more than the centre. The final brownie will have a crustier outside texture.
Whether to use glass or metal tin to bake your brownie is very much dependent on your choice of baking dish. Just be sure to use the right size dish by following your brownie recipe.
Again the brownie recipe here will really affect your final brownie product. The use of cocoa tends to make a chewier, cakier textured brownie. If you are looking for a richer, denser brownie then use chocolate.
Generally for most brownie recipes, Chocolate and Cocoa are not easily substituted one for one so be sure to check. Making brownies requires expensive ingredients so take care to check and change the recipe if you want to swap from cocoa powder to chocolate or vice versa. It's not a good idea to just swap one for the other and risk an expensive flop.
Another tip if you're using Cocoa Powder is to check it's in good condition. It is true Cocoa Powder does have a very long shelf life. Having said that we tend to keep ingredients like cocoa powder in the pantry and years can pass by. I know when our kids were small I could find things at the back of our home pantry that were years old. It happens! Although cocoa powder does keep for a long time, it does age and I often feel when I'm baking that all the ingredients are so expensive that you want to make sure you are using the best that you can. So just check on your cocoa powder quality to make sure it's ok. I read lots on the internet about the difference between cocoa powder brownie and real chocolate brownie. It's preference ( and what you have at home ) but I do think that cocoa brownies are often judged poorly because cheap or old cocoa powder has been used in their preparation. If you're using cocoa powder to bake brownies then use the best quality that you possible can get your hands on.
Oh and one thing we're often asked if drinking chocolate be substituted for cocoa powder in a brownie recipe. The answer here in my opinion is no! Drinking chocolate will contain cocoa powder and/or chocolate however it also usually has dry milk powder and other additives including flavours and preservatives. It in my mind will not make a great brownie.
Follow your brownie recipe carefully. You know your oven best so bake the brownies to the recipe conditions provided but also take into account your own oven. The last thing you need is over or under baked brownies. If you're baking brownies for the first time then please check and watch regularly during the cooking process.
The secret to great brownies is to make sure you remove your brownies from the oven when they are just a little under baked. When you press on the edge of the brownies you should have a kind of bounce back - so the brownie is cooked but still just that little still malleable to your push. After your brownie is removed from the oven it will continue to cook. The secret is to pull the brownie from the oven just ahead of fully cooked and let the final cooking be done on your bench top!
So much of baking brownies gets down to personal choice. Once you know if you want a cakey or fudgy brownie then let these tips guide you on how to achieve the best brownies.
If you have any Brownie baking tips please let us know.
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