To me, nothing says “I love chocolate” better than brownies. Yet, ask a few chocolate lovers what their favorite brownie recipe is, and you will probably get an assortment of different responses. That’s because brownies come in so many different varieties and flavors, it would be tough to lump them all into the same category. Frosted or unfrosted? Plain or with nuts? Double or triple chocolate? Cream cheese? Mint? Peanut butter? Raspberry? The possibilities are endless.
But before you start adding in all those extra ingredients and flavors, let’s take a step back to first examine the texture of the brownie. Brownie textures fall into three general camps…Cakey, fudgy and chewy.
Cakey brownies, like the name implies, are light, moist and airy, with a slightly fluffy, cake-like interior. Fudgy brownies are moist, dense and gooey, with almost the texture of fudge, but not quite as compact. Chewy brownies are dense (like fudgy brownies), but have a little more “bite” to them or elastic texture when you chew them.
Personally, I think that a fudgy brownie is the only way to go. But, since we all have different preferences, let's look at different recipes and find the right brownie recipe for you.
The recipe for Ultimate Cakey Brownies has the least amount of butter, sugar and flour in it. A little bit of corn syrup is added to maintain the moistness. Brownie recipes typically don’t have a leavener like baking powder, but this recipe adds a little to give it a lighter texture. The first step is to beat the butter until it is soft, then add the sugar and beat until creamy. This “creaming” step incorporates tiny air pockets into the batter. When the brownies bake, these tiny air pockets expand to give the brownies the cake-like texture.
The recipes for Ultimate Chewy Brownies and Ultimate Fudgy Brownies are very similar. They both have about double the amount of butter, flour and sugar than the cakey brownies. This provides the richness and gooey structure in the brownie.
The preparation method for the denser brownies is also very different. Instead of creaming the butter, the butter and chocolate are melted together to become thoroughly incorporated. Another critical step when adding the flour is to stir just until it is moistened. The more you stir, the more the proteins in flour called gluten begins to develop, causing the batter to be more elastic.
So what’s the difference between fudgy and chewy brownies? The chewy brownie (pictured above) has an additional egg and 1/4 cup more flour than the fudgy brownies, which give the brownie a little more “bite”.
Because baking brownies can be a little tricky, here are some general tips for more brownie baking success…
- Grease the bottom only of the pan. The brownie batter needs to cling to the sides of the pan and if the sides are greased the brownies have nothing to adhere to as they rise.
- Melt chocolate over low heat. Chocolate scorches, easily ruining its flavor. Be sure to melt it slowly, stirring frequently.
- Don’t overmix your ingredients or your brownies may be less tender.
- Don’t overbake or you will lose the moist, tender texture. This is easier said than done when there is no surefire way to tell when brownies are done. Follow the directions on your recipe carefully. If you bake enough brownies, your instincts will tell you when they are done.
No matter what brownies you decide to make, they all provide that rich flavor that will satisfy the chocolate craving. Happy brownie baking!