Daily #76: Chocolate brownies

In the spirit of yesterday’s post, I thought I’d just ramble about one of the best creations of humankind (in my opinion).

The above treat is my absolute favourite sweet thing on the planet. There’s something about a chocolate brownie that cannot be beaten. It’s the perfect marriage between chocolate cake and chocolate fudge, and is best eaten warmed up and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If there is a brownie available where I’m eating, I’ll generally order it if I’m having dessert. I’ve therefore tried many different brownies from many different locations. After a few too many disappointing brownies, I decided to make my own:

Hungry? You may be wondering what makes a disappointing brownie. There are a few things which I’ve picked out over the years:

  • A brownie that’s too ‘fudgy’. This occurs when a brownie doesn’t have enough air pushed into it as the batter is being made. The result contains all of the flavour, but the texture is very dense and sticks to the inside of your mouth. It also means you get less brownie, which is always a bad thing.
  • A brownie that’s too ‘cakey’. This is the exact opposite problem, and usually occurs when instead of introducing air into the batter through whisking, a raising agent (such as baking powder) is used. This turns a brownie batter into a cake batter, and the result therefore resembles a cake. It’s airy, but too tall, and doesn’t have the melt-in-your-mouth quality.
  • A brownie that’s too sweet. This occurs when either milk chocolate is used to give the brownie its… pizzazz, or not enough chocolate is used. The result, while still tasty, is far too rich and can feel very sickly. As a dark chocolate lover, this is my pet hate when it comes to brownies.

I’m not going to pretend I’m a prodigy when it comes to brownie recipes. The recipe I use for my ‘signature’ brownies is simply this one from BBC Good Food.

While the process is fairly intensive, it boils down to a few simple steps:

  • Melt the chocolate and butter together
  • Sift flour and cocoa powder together
  • Whisk eggs and sugar together
  • Fold all three elements together (gently)
  • Bake
  • Leave to cool, cut into squares
  • Eat!

I won’t simply post the whole recipe here as that seems a little redundant. However, I will put some tips in as to what can make your brownies better and easier!

  • Firstly, the recipe calls for chocolate chips to be incorporated. As I said, I’m a dark chocolate lover, so I find the inclusion of white and milk chocolate chips here to be too much. I’m also quite a purist with food – for instance, margherita pizza beats out any toppings. Therefore, I leave these out, so the brownie consists of just its dark chocolate flavour.
  • Many of the comments say to reduce the amount of sugar, as the recipe calls for 275 grams. Personally, I’ve kept this to the recipe and I’ve not had a problem with it even though I’m not big on sugar, but if you’re not big on sweetness then it shouldn’t be a problem to reduce this.
  • I use a fairly deep-set square tin for this recipe. There’s a bit of a blip in a later step where it mentions using foil to pull the brownies out of the tin, despite having never mentioned it prior to that. I grease the bottom, then line the bottom and sides of the tin with grease-proof paper, which I then use to pull it out once it’s done. This can be an issue if you forget to prepare your tin properly before you add your batter, so think ahead!
  • When it tells you to whisk the eggs and sugar, you need to whisk it for a long time. It’s hard to tell when it doubles in size, as the recipe states, and it looks like it does that after just a couple of minutes of whisking. I use an electric hand-whisk, but I always ensure to whisk it for about five minutes longer than I think is right. This step is vital as it’s the difference between a fudgy brownie and a perfect brownie – so take the time to do it properly!
  • The last, and arguably most important thing to remember is to let them cool completely in the tray you bake them in. While it’s ridiculously tempting to release them from their prison and devour them while they’re still warm, they will continue to cook while they’re cooling. Doing this means that you don’t need to leave them in the oven too long to cook the middle, which can lead to burnt edges. Instead, take them out when the middle doesn’t wiggle anymore, then leave them to cool before you take them out. This is the difference between a cooked middle and a pile of warm batter. And warming up a brownie only takes about 15 seconds in the microwave, so you can still have them nice and warm!

So if you feel like a chocolate brownie right about now, why not try making your own? That way, you get to eat the whole tray!

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