Brownie comes in different texture and appearance. It can be shiny with cracked top, it can have a fudgy or cake like texture, or a crossed between the two. However you like it, brownie is a quick fix for a chocolate craving, a decadent treat that is so simple and easy to make.
Basic & Simple
Today we are going back to some thing very simple. A basic one bowl, no hand mixer. Just plain old classic brownie, plain, simple, easy and decadent. There’s nothing wrong with toppings and variation, in fact I used this basic brownie recipe to create different variations of brownie. But there are times (like now) when I feel just like something plain and simple like this. Something to just satisfy my chocolate cravings. This is a very simple recipe, even if you do not have any baking experience you can make this one. This is really a no mess-up recipe. Let us get to know brownie a little bit more before jumping into the recipe. Take some time to read the tips and tricks so that you end up with a beautiful shiny brownie just like in the photo. Bonus plus, we will discuss different variations that you can easily make for this brownie. This simple basic brownie recipe can turn to a mother of all delicious brownie variations, but first, let us start with the basic… Plain Classic Brownie, the canvass to your brownie variations.
As simple as it is, there are few key things that you should know about Brownies. Why some brownies are thick and fudgy, and why some brownies are almost like cake texture. How about those shiny cracked top, how do you achieve that look? Let’s put out geek glasses on and dig deeper into brownie making. Ready? Here we go! Let us start by understanding the ingredients as it is key to how you end up with a fudgy or cake like texture.
What are the Ingredients for Basic Brownie?
- Chocolate – Use a good quality baking chocolate for best result. Either a bar baking chocolate that has been chopped or chocolate chips works for this recipe. The chocolate gives the fudgy texture to the brownie depending on the amount use.
- Butter – Salted or unsalted if fine. If using salted, skip the additional salt in the recipe. Butter is a source of fat, thus helps in making a brownie fudgy or cake like depending on the amount use.
- granulated white Sugar – To sweeten the brownie. Brown sugar works too, but it will make the brownie denser, so I recommend stick to white sugar
- Vanilla Extract – Totally optional and can be substituted with espresso or coffee powder.
- Egg – This gives structure to the brownie
- All-Purpose Flour – The base dry ingredient, just the right % of gluten. I wouldn’t recommend using cake flour or self-rising flour as this brownie aims to be on the fudgy texture
- Salt – Small amount goes a long way in enhancing the taste, sweet & salty.
Types of Brownie
Fudgy Brownies which seems to be the favorite of most people have less amount of flour and do no use any leavening agent. Making a fudgy brownie usually require melting the butter rather than creaming it with sugar. This method produces a denser, fudgier outcome. When using unsweetened chocolate, the amount of sugar is more to balance its bitterness. When replace by dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, I usually decrease the amount of sugar to abut 2-3 tablespoon less.
Cake Like Brownies are like cakes, make sense right? They are fluffier because it uses more flour, less butter and contains a leavening agent like baking powder to give it a rise. In terms of butter, often the softened butter is creamed with the sugar rather than melted with the chocolate. The creaming process incorporates air into the mixture, which causes the brownies to rise higher, just like when making cakes and cupcakes. Some Cakelike brownie recipes adds a bit of milk to add tenderness to the texture. The lighter the batter, the less dense it will be.
Chewy Brownie, my personal favorite. A always refer to this as a cross between fudgy and cake like texture. The sides have a lighter crunchy crumb, while the center is soft and moist. This type of brownie usually get their texture from egg and a combination of different types of chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate (raw) has the highest proportion of starch, which create a stiffer-textured brownie. Semisweet chocolate produces a creamier texture well because it has more milk in it. So if you want to get a cross between fudgy and chewy texture, try to use a combination of unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate and an addition of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder usually dries out the batter, producing a thick batter which results to a rich, satisfyingly chewy brownie. It is really in the ratio and how you use each ingredient.
What Makes a Brownie Fudgy?
Brownie uses very few simple ingredients. Whether you like your brownie fudgy or cake like depends on the ratio of the ingredients you are using. By using the same ingredients, you can make both fudgy and cake like brownie by just changing the ratio.
Fudgy brownies have a higher fat (butter and chocolate), while a cake like brownie have more flour and usually uses a leavening agent such as baking powder (for a lighter fine texture) or baking soda (for a coarse chewy texture) to give the brownie a rise. Some recipe do nut use any leavening agent, like this one. The amount of sugar and eggs does not change whether you’re going fudgy or cakey
How to Get Shiny Cracked Top Trademark of a Beautiful Brownie
For me, one thing that makes a great Brownie stands out from the rest is the beautiful shiny crack top, they’re simply irresistible and tempting. But how do you make sure you end up with this beautiful shiny cracked top every time? The shiny cracked top of a brownie is attributed to the way the egg is beaten to the brownie batter. According to the author of “BakeWise”, the shiny cracked top is a very thin layer of meringue that arises when the eggs are beaten into the brownie batter. Having said this, if you beat and mix the egg into the brownie longer than usual you have a great chance of achieving a shiny top. I like to manually mix my brownie batter for about 1 minute, at least until the sugar looks almost dissolved. You can use a hand mixer, but why bother when it is so easy doing it manually. That would be one less item to cleanup. For some reason, I also noticed that adding the sugar while the melted butter and chocolate are still warm seems to achieve a nice shiny cracked top. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but every time I follow this 2 simple tips, I always ended up with a beautiful shiny crack top.
Tips in Making Brownie
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Use temperature ingredients for easy mixing. For the egg, simply take the egg out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before using or if you forget to do so, submerge it in warm water for 10 minutes. This should warm the eggs.
- Preparing the Pan: Always grease the pan or line with parchment paper for easy removal
- Mixing: Do not over mix the batter once you add the flour. Just fold until no more raw flour is visible.
- Understand Your Bakeware: Light metal pan bakes faster, while glass dish takes longer. When it comes to brownie, few minutes could make a huge difference in texture. Remember, every second counts!
- Temperature: If you can, use an oven thermometer. It doesn’t cost much but it makes huge difference. A slight temperature reading could make a huge difference in the baking time.
- Baking: Check the brownie at least 3 minutes before the recommended time so you don’t end up with a dry and hard brownie. For fudgy brownie, the sides should start to pull away while the center is still soft and moist. It will harden as it cools. For cake like brownie, toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean just like when testing a cake.
- Serving: Let the brownie cool before slicing. The texture and flavor of the brownie will be at its best when cooled. I personally prefer serving fudgy brownie cold as it tends to mellow and deepen the flavor.
Big Ingredients (Makes 16 Pieces):
- 5 ounces (150 grams) semisweet chocolate or 50% dark Chocolate (or combination of both) coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted Butter, diced
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened Cocoa powder (regular unsweetened or Dutch-processed)
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white Sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 large Eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (95 grams) All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Powdered Coffee (Optional)
- 2-3 tablespoon melted Chocolate (Optional)
Texture: This produces a chewy brownie, great for adding toppings like nuts, chococolate chips, dried fruits, marshmallow etc.
Small Batch Ingredients (Makes 4 – 6 Pieces):
- 2 ounces (60 grams) Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup (68 grams) granulated white Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 large Egg (an egg weighs about 55 grams without the shell)
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (38 grams) All-Purpose Flour
- 1/8 teaspoon (1/2 gram) Salt
Texture: This produces a fudgy brownie with fudgy, smooth and dense texture.
- Nuts, chocolate chunks, marshmallow, chocolate chips.
- You can also have it plain if you do not like to add toppings. Just dust the top with confectioners/icing sugar or cocoa powder
- Cover the top with Chocolate Ganache OR
- Top it with fresh fruits like Strawberries or Raspberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- Melt the Chocolate and Butter in a large heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Add Cocoa Powder & Sugar: Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar.
- Add Wet Ingredients: Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Finally, stir in the flour and salt.
- If you want to add coffee powder, this is the time to do it
- Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
- Add Toppings: If you are adding toppings, this is the time to do it. Arrange toppings and slightly press it down using your fingers.
- If you are using Marshmallow, it is best to put last 15 minutes of baking as they burn and melt easily.
- You can also mix the add on (chocolate chips, nuts etc.) with the brownie batter if you do not like it on top.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for a few hours before cutting.
- Big Batch of 16: Bake in 8 x 8-inch pan for 35 minutes
- Small Batch of 4: Bake in 5 x 5-inch pan for 33 minutes
- Drizzle with melted chocolate.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled. The brownies can be frozen up to 3 months.
If you do not have the recommended pan size, you can use other size but bear in mind that baking time might need to be adjusted. Please adjust as necessary, keeping in mind that the smaller the pan, the thicker the brownie and you might need to increase the baking time. The wider the pan, the thinner the brownies and you might need to decrease the baking time. Start with +/- 5 minutes from suggested time. The goal is when toothpick is inserted in the center, it should come out still a little bit moist, not dry.
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