Few can resist the juicy chocolateness of a perfectly baked fudge brownie. Baking the best brownie requires following some simple rules to ensure you get the desired results. An amazing brownie will have all of your friends and family begging for more. Here are 9 reasons why your brownies may not be perfect.
The texture of your brownie will be impacted by the degree to which you mix or beat your batter. Our experience at Dello Mano was to use trial and error to determine the amount of mixing that gave us the desired brownie result, record it and then stick to it. In the early days at Dello Mano we were looking to set the Best Brownie Standard so we were careful to watch and measure and then repeat our brownie process. Over mixing brownie leads to too much air incorporation and can leave your brownie looking and tasting like a chocolate cake. Under mixing will lead to insufficient combination of your core ingredients and so the brownie texture will not form to perfection.
Brownie batter preparation requires a very thorough mixing of eggs and sugar. You should mix until it is very smooth and pale in colour.
Over mixing your brownie ingredients will result in poor brownie results.
At Dello Mano we like a brownie mix that is thick and rich.
Always choose a brownie recipe that is sourced from a reputable developer. Check that the recipe source test bakes and publishes openly that they test bake all of their recipes. Baking brownies is expensive and especially so when you are incorporating real chocolate. You want to make sure you read the recipe carefully before starting your brownie baking. If you make a change in recipe for improvement make sure you record it so that you can remember what you've done and then also be able to find it to repeat the same process....assuming of course you did create your vision of the best brownie.
Sometimes when baking a recipe things may be a little different to what you had expected. Always check the recipe before beginning for small details like grams vs imperial measurements and whether or not the butter should be cold or at room temperature.
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We recommend lining the base and sides of your brownie pan. While many bakes only require a lining of the base of the pan, brownie baking is a little different. In order to stop too much crunchiness on the sides of the brownie, line the brownie pan base and sides. Of course if you like a crunchy edge brownie you might experiment and find what works best for you. After all your idea of the best brownie is in fact the best brownie.
Chocolate varies in quality, taste and texture. Also being natural it varies from season to season and most always varies from origin to origin. It is important to choose the chocolate that gives you the best brownie result - the flavour that you like. Be careful too with the fat level of your chocolate. Your brownie recipe will need to be adjusted depending on whether you are using milk or dark chocolate. The sweetness too will vary with chocolate choice. So to create your best brownie the most prudent thing to do is have patience and test various chocolate types until you have something that you consider perfection.
Here at Dello Mano we feel so strongly about the quality and provenance of the chocolate we use that we've traveled to Ghana in Africa. We visited the Abrahams farm to see the Cacao literally growing on the trees and then followed the process through to the port where the beans left for processing in Belgium.
Chocolate can be expensive but just like wine in cooking, the results are always better when you use a good quality.
Choose a chocolate that has a flavour profile that you enjoy, make sure it is a good quality and that its fat content is sufficient for your recipe.
While most brownie recipes suggest a pan size appropriate for the mix, this is not always available in the home kitchen. If you can't bake your brownies in the pan size and type suggested then be sure to adjust your time and temperature in the oven so that it is suitable for the brownie pan that you have available. Since temperature must move evenly through a brownie it is recommended that you try as best you can to find a pan that is to the size recommended.
Eggs for brownies are best used at room temperature. We call this conditioning the eggs. While you might store the eggs in the fridge, it is recommended to always remove them before baking. Leave them on the bench for about an hour before using eggs to bake brownies. Eggs will mix and perform better if they are at room temperature. This step is often forgotten and many brownie bakers go right ahead with baking despite having forgotten to condition the eggs first.
The term "ribboning" your brownie preparation mix is important. Getting to a ribboning stage is essential for the best brownie baking results. The ribbon stage occurs when the egg and sugar are mixed together. The mix takes in air and the sugar dissolves into the egg. The mix becomes light and pale and thick and creamy. When this stage is reached the egg will better cook while in the oven.
Baking brownies does come down to practice. One thing to get right is when to pull the brownies out from the oven. So often brownies are over or under cooked. Our article How to know when your Brownies are cooked explains common problems and what you can do to avoid either dry brownie or a gooey under cooked brownie that tastes more like cake mix than a Brownie.
We like perfect edges here at Dello Mano. For many, the 45 minutes of enduring the sweet warm aroma of a brownie baking is just too much and they chop into the brownie immediately it is fresh out of the oven. A brownie must be left to cool and set before being cut (resist every temptation!). When you do cut the brownie use a long knife that goes across the length of the brownie. Wipe the knife in between cuts to ensure a clean crumb less edge to your brownie.
Take on board these 9 points, do what you can to fix them and in no time at all you will have baked your best brownie!
Co-creator of Dello Mano - Australia's Brownie Pioneers est 2006