[CnD] Baking Brownies Just Right: Cakey, Chewy, or Fudgy

marilyn deweese mldeweese15511 at frontier.com
Fri Feb 3 01:28:09 GMT 2012


Baking Brownies Just Right: Cakey, Chewy, or Fudgy
Change the proportions of ingredients to bake the style you like best
by Cindy Mitchell

Make them how you like them. Whether a brownie ends up dense and fudgy, 
moist and chewy, or light and cakey depends on the amounts of chocolate, 
butter,
sugar, and flour.

Brownies come in all guises -- with nuts, without, butterscotch, swirled 
with cream cheese, shot through with mint or fruit filling, sprinkled with 
chips,
spiked with espresso or booze, or just plain chocolate in a million 
variations. But the most important aspect of a brownie, for anyone who loves 
brownies,
is texture. Initially, I thought there were just two camps, cakey versus 
fudgy, and I was firmly planted in the cakey camp. But after testing, 
tasting,
and canvassing friends and colleagues about what they prize most in a 
brownie, I began to see that there's a third style to consider: chewy, which 
is definitely
different from its cakey and fudgy siblings.

I'll say right off that I could never claim to write the Bible on 
brownies -- there are so many recipes, and everyone has a favorite. But as 
I'll show you,
there are definitely guidelines to follow so that you can make the style of 
brownie that suits your taste, whether it's cakey, fudgy, or chewy. I've 
also
thrown in a butterscotch blondie, as well as chocolate brownie cookies, a 
huge favorite at my bakery, Grace Baking, and the happy result of a 
measuring
mistake.

Similar ingredients, different proportions

Start your brownies with melted chocolate. Whether you melt it with butter 
or not, use the gentle heat of a double boiler -- there's no remedy for 
scorched
chocolate.

All of these brownie recipes have enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a 
chocolate yearning, and they all have similar ingredients. But because of 
the varying
amounts of chocolate, butter, sugar, and flour, the texture of each brownie 
is quite different. To keep things simple, I've left nuts out of the three
chocolate variations, but feel free to add them, 3/4 cup or so. I especially 
love chopped toasted walnuts in the cakey version.

A fudgy brownie is dense, with a moist, intensely chocolatey interior. I 
think of it as somewhere between a rich truffle torte and a piece of fudge. 
You'll
see that I've included both bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate: I love 
the deep, intense chocolate flavor they pack when used together. I've added 
an
egg yolk to contribute fudgy richness without greasiness. Because the batter 
is quite dense, I suggest beating it vigorously with a wooden spoon to 
ensure
a smooth, even texture.

A chewy brownie is moist, but not quite as gooey as a fudgy one. The 
chewiness seems to come from a couple of different factors: more all-purpose 
flour,
whose proteins provide "bite" (I find that cake flour, which is lower in 
protein, results in a light, crumbly texture that's too delicate for 
brownies);
and whole eggs, whose whites give structure and "set."

Cakey brownies need cake-baking technique. Cindy Mitchell uses a whisk to 
aerate the batter.

A cakey brownie has a moist crumb and a slightly fluffy interior. The batter 
contains less butter than the other recipes, and I include milk and a little
corn syrup for moistness (the milk and corn syrup are also great ways to 
extend a brownie's shelf life). I don't use much flour (even less than for 
most
cakes), and while brownies don't usually use chemical leavens, I add some 
baking powder to keep this cakey brownie light.

When I mix cakey brownies, I use a bit of cake-baking technique, too: 
creaming the butter and sugar first (rather than melting the butter) and 
then whisking
the batter to aerate the mixture and get a light crumb. I think this brownie 
improves on sitting at least one and even two days after you bake it.

Killer brownies don't need expensive chocolate
With high-quality chocolate -- both domestic and imported -- more readily 
available these days, I've noticed that many bakers have opted to get fancy 
with
brownies. I'm a stickler for good ingredients, but I also believe that 
brownies are best when you keep them simple. While I encourage you to 
experiment
with different chocolates, I got delicious results in all these recipes with 
supermarket-handy unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate.

Test for doneness before the recipe tells you to
In addition to ingredient proportions, baking time greatly affects the 
consistency of a brownie, so it's important to be attentive. Fudgy brownies 
baked
three minutes too short can be unpleasantly gooey; chewy brownies baked 
three minutes too long become tough and dry. I encourage you to invest in an 
oven
thermometer (about $6), a valuable help in ensuring consistent results.

Brownies will cook more quickly in metal pans than in glass, which is what 
accounts for the wide time windows in the recipes. If you're using metal, 
cooking
times will be on the short side; with Pyrex, they'll be longer. For all 
these recipes, and regardless of the pan you're using, start
testing for doneness
after 20 minutes of baking. First, press your fingers gently into the center 
of the pan. If the brownie feels like it's just setting, insert a toothpick
near the center. The pick will probably be wet, but this early testing is 
good for comparison's sake. Continue baking for 5 to 8 minutes and then 
insert
the toothpick again near the center. Brownies are done when the toothpick 
comes out with a few moist crumbs still clinging. It's okay for the pick to 
look
moist, but if you see wet batter, keep baking.

For uniform squares, flip the cooled, whole brownie out of the pan. You'll 
have a much easier time cutting neat squares, with the option of cutting off
the edges if you want to. Lining the pan bottoms with parchment makes it 
much easier to get the brownie out of the pan. If you don't have any on 
hand,
waxed paper works, too.

One last word: although it's awfully tempting to cut into a pan of 
just-baked brownies, hold off. The flavor and texture of each type of 
brownie will be
at its best -- and definitely worth waiting for -- when completely cool.

Cindy Mitchell and her husband, Glenn, own
Grace Baking
in the San Francisco Bay area.

Cakey Brownies

Cakey Brownies

by Cindy Mitchell These are rich and luscious, with a cakey lightness. 
Yields sixteen 2-inch squares.


ingredients
tip
This recipe can be doubled easily; use a 13x9-inch pan and increase the 
baking time slightly.
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the 
pan
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. light corn syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, lukewarm
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt

how to make
tip

The recipe gives a range of baking times -- use the shorter time for metal 
pans, the longer for Pyrex pans.

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a 
double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove the pan from 
the heat;
cool slightly. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with 
parchment (or waxed paper), and then butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter with a fork. Beat in the sugar and corn 
syrup; be sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Add the eggs, one at a 
time,
whisking thoroughly. Add the vanilla and milk. Whisk until incorporated, 
about 30 seconds. The batter may appear broken; this is okay. Whisk in the 
melted
chocolate, beating until the batter is smooth and has thickened slightly, 30 
to 60 seconds. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt so they're
well blended; stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until 
incorporated. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick 
inserted
in the middle comes out clean with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 
30 min.

Set the pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around 
the inside edge of the pan and then invert the pan onto a flat surface and
peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to cool 
completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Chewy Brownies

by Cindy Mitchell Added flour helps to give these brownies their chewiness. 
It's important not to overbake these or they'll dry out. Yields sixteen 
2-inch
squares.


ingredients
tip
This recipe can be doubled easily; use a 13X9-inch pan and increase the 
baking time slightly.
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) flour
2 Tbs. natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)

how to make
tip
The recipe gives a range of baking times -- use the shorter time for metal 
pans, the longer for Pyrex pans.

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 
8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with parchment (or waxed paper), and
then butter the parchment.

In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. 
Remove the pan from the heat; cool slightly. Stir in the sugar, salt, and 
vanilla.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, stirring each time until blended. Add the 
flour and cocoa; beat until incorporated and the mixture is smooth, 30 to 60
seconds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is 
uniformly colored with no indentation and a toothpick inserted in the middle
comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 45 
min.

Set the pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around 
the inside edge of the pan and then invert the pan onto a flat surface and
peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to cool 
completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Fudgy Brownies

by Cindy Mitchell Using both bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate gives 
these brownies deep, sophisticated chocolate flavor. The consistency is 
fudgy but
not gooey or underdone. Yields sixteen 2-inch squares.

ingredients
tip
This recipe can be doubled easily; use a 13X9-inch pan and increase the 
baking time slightly.
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3 oz. (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour

how to make
tip

The recipe gives a range of baking times -- use the shorter time for metal 
pans, the longer for Pyrex pans.

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 
8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with parchment (or waxed paper), and
then butter the parchment.

In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and both 
chocolates. Remove the pan from the heat; cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar 
and then the
vanilla and salt. The mixture will be somewhat grainy; this is okay. Whisk 
in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, stirring each time until blended. 
Add
the flour, beating until thickened and smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour into 
the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out
with moist crumbs (not wet batter) clinging to it, 35 to 45 min.

Set the pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around 
the inside edge of the pan and then invert the pan onto a flat surface and
peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to cool 
completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Blondies

by Cindy Mitchell Dark brown sugar will give you an especially flavorful 
blondie. Yields sixteen 2-inch squares.

ingredients
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
1-1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs.) all-purpose flour
Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. (3/4 cup) coarsely chopped toasted pecans

how to make
tip

This recipe can be doubled easily; use a 13X9-inch pan and increase the 
baking time slightly. The recipe gives a range of baking times -- use the 
shorter
time for metal pans, the longer for Pyrex pans.

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a 
medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter and brown sugar, stirring 
frequently,
until the sugar has dissolved. Cook, stirring, about 1 min. longer--the 
mixture will bubble but should not boil. Set the pan aside to cool for about 
10
min.

Meanwhile, butter an 8-inch square pan, line the pan bottom with parchment 
(or waxed paper), and then butter the parchment. Stir the egg, egg yolk, and
vanilla into the cooled sugar mixture. Add the flour, salt, and nuts, 
stirring just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 
until the
center is springy when touched (the top may still look doughy) and a 
toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (it's fine if there are a 
few moist
crumbs clinging to it), 25 to 35 min.

Set the pan on a rack until it's cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife 
around the inside edge of the pan and then invert the pan onto a flat 
surface
and peel off the parchment. Flip the baked brownie back onto the rack to 
cool completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

by Cindy Mitchell These cookies are really popular at our bakery, Grace 
Baking. A pastry bag is faster than a spoon for piping the cookie batter; 
use a
#4 tip. It's okay to pipe the cookies close together; they won't spread much 
during baking. Yields about 4-1/2 dozen cookies.

ingredients
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 cup) chopped toasted pecans

how to make

Position an oven rack on the center rung. Heat the oven to 350°F and line 
two baking sheets with parchment (or grease and flour the pan).

In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir 
to combine; let cool. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat
the eggs and sugar on medium high to a ribbon consistency, 3 to 4 min. Take 
the bowl off the mixer. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla; 
stir
to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir the flour 
mixture and the nuts into the batter; let the batter rest for 5 min.

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip (or into a 
heavy-duty zip-top bag with one bottom corner snipped to create a 2/3-inch 
diagonal opening).
For each cookie, pipe 1 Tbs. batter onto the lined baking sheet. While you 
pipe the second tray, bake the first until the cookies are puffed and 
cracked
and the tops barely spring back when pressed, 8 to 10 min. The cracks should 
be moist but not wet. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

Variations
Substitute 1-1/2 tsp. mint extract for the vanilla and the nuts.

Are they done yet?

Brownies are underdone when smudges of wet batter cling to the toothpick.

Brownies are just right when traces of moistness and fudgy crumbs cling to 
the toothpick.

Start testing for doneness before the recipe says to. Press gently in the 
center of the pan -- the brownie should feel like it has just set. Then 
insert
a toothpick to be sure. "When in doubt," says Cindy Mitchell, "lean toward 
underdone rather than overdone."  Enjoy.


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