I’m not sure what to name this post. Chewy Brownies? Fudgey Brownies? I don’t want them to be typecast, so I am settling on just “Brownies.” I like this direct, simple title because it also speaks to the purity of this brownie. No walnuts, no cream cheese and no chocolate chips to distract the palate.
As you can tell, I think a lot about brownies (actually, I think a lot about a lot of food). Since I was in the third grade, I wanted to bake. But alas, my family is full of amazing cooks…but not a single baker. And so I turned to the only teacher I knew: Mrs. Duncan Hines. Remember, I’m a bit ancient and these were pre-internet days.
Now that I’m
older wiser, I know how to bake a brownie from scratch and my preferences have shifted to something fudgier. My favorite über fudgey brownie is the original brownie at Fat Witch Bakery. But if I wanted a chewy, cakey brownie, I would still go with Duncan Hines. But you can’t really have it both ways. It would be an impossible oxymoron. Or is it? That was a challenge I couldn’t refuse.
I set out to create the Ultimate Brownie; one that would meet everything I want in a chocolate square: fudgey, cakey, dense, light and melts in your mouth. And I did. A friend asked me what did I do to get this result. It’s everything: ingredients, ratios, mixing method, baking temperature and baking time…oh, and let’s not forget many, many experiments! Experimenting can be frustrating at times. Sometimes I have a feeling an experiment is going to fail, but I do it anyway to get empirical evidence that backs up my theory.
To get a fudgey brownie, I used a lot of melted chocolate and only a little all-purpose flour; but enough flour to give it the slightest cakey structure. For denseness, I stuck to the traditional all-purpose flour since cake and pastry flour don’t have enough protein. I considered bread flour, but that would be too much protein and gluten.
I am a big fan of good dutch cocoa powder to bring a deep, dark chocolate flavor to my desserts. I added some dutch cocoa for another layer of chocolate goodness, I’m all about depth of flavor. Food is like wine, you have flavors that first hit your tongue, then other flavors come out as you continue to savor and swallow.
To create a lighter texture, I added a bit of baking powder.
All this comes together in one bowl without a mixer because I am all about efficiency and try to create recipes that are one-bowl and don’t need special equipment (the many times I use special equipment is because that’s the only way I can achieve a certain result). In this case there is another reason.
Typical brownie recipes call for melted butter because the melted butter will hydrate and coat the flour without introducing air. The whole purpose of using a mixer to cream butter and sugar together is to create air pockets which later expand in the oven. I didn’t want a cakey brownie, so decided to stick to the melted butter.
The order of ingredients is important too. Adding the sugar to the melted and cooled chocolate and butter allows the sugar to dissolve into the wet ingredients. (When you think of substituting wet ingredients and dry ingredients, sugar is traditionally considered a wet ingredient.) Adding the sugar after you add the flour creates a drier more cakey brownie (yes, I have empirical evidence to back this up).
You need to use an 8×8 pan and bake at 325F for 23 minutes. Although, this is the part that you may need to adjust since every oven varies slightly. In my oven, baking an extra 2 minutes will create a drier brownie that isn’t the perfect blend of moist and fudgey that I prefer.
Is this the Ultimate Brownie? It is for me. It’s all personal preference. I do know that it delivers on being fudgey, cakey, dense, light and melts in your mouth all at once.
1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 1/2 ounces (156 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, broken up into pieces for faster melting
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (175 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (18 grams) dutch cocoa powder
1/2 cup (57 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Non-stick spray or 1 tablespoon canola oil for greasing the pan
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with aluminium foil. Spray the foil with non-stick spray or brush with canola oil.
Place the chocolate and butter in a steel or glass bowl (we’re going to use this for a homemade double boiler). Place a small pot on the stove and fill with 1 1/2 inch of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil then turn off the heat.
Place the chocolate and butter bowl on top of the pot (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir the mixture until all of the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove the bowl from the pot, set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and salt until combined.
Place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir to evenly distribute the baking powder. Whisk the flour mixture in to the chocolate mixture until combined.
Pour the batter (flour and chocolate mixture) into the pan. Bake for 23 minutes. Depending on the oven, you may need to bake it 25 – 26 minutes. It should look a bit undercooked, but the top will look dry.