Do you like a “fluffier” brownie or one that is a little denser and more “fudgy”? There is a saying that cooking is an art whereas baking is a science. That’s because there are certain proportions of ingredients that must be measured precisely for baking in order for the items to turn out as you wish. If you are making soup, you could sprinkle in a little extra seasoning or more veggies, for example. But throw in an extra measure of an ingredient in baking and you could end up with a very different result than you had hoped. It’s okay to follow a recipe—it is still “creative,” and there are little ways you can tailor the recipe without changing the ingredients.
Lauren Chattman, who wrote The Baking Answer Book and who created this recipe for Real Food, notes that the chemical reactions that take place during baking don’t cease the instant you remove your baked goods from the oven. The cooling period is actually a time when proteins continue to coagulate and water continues to evaporate from dough or batter.
For cakey brownies that are still moist, bake them at a moderate temperature and pull them from the oven while they’re still a little damp in the center with some wet crumbs sticking to a tester. As they cool, they will finish baking. For more fudge-like brownies, see the variation at the end of the recipe. Happy baking!
Makes 16 Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup (112 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.
2. Put 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler or medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
3. Combine the butter and chocolate in the top of the double boiler or in a stainless-steel bowl and set on top of the simmering water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the nuts, if using.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake the brownies until they are just set in the center, about 25 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Grasping the overhanging foil on either side of the pan, lift out the brownies and place them on a cutting board. Cut them into 16 squares.
Variation: Fudgy brownies
If your ideal is closer to fudge than cake, you’ll want your brownies underbaked at the center. For the solution, I turned to what Alice Medrich calls “the Steve ritual” in her book, Cookies and Brownies, which is named after an old friend who discovered it.
For Fudgy Brownies: Preheat the oven to 400°F instead of 350°F. Position the rack on the bottom third of the oven. Fill a large baking pan halfway with ice water. Bake the brownies until dry on top, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately submerge the bottom half in the ice bath to stop the baking. Cool completely in the ice bath before removing from the pan and cutting.
Nutrition info Cakey Brownies (per serving): CALORIES 215 (116 from fat); FAT 13g (sat. 6g); CHOL 39mg; SODIUM 62mg; CARB 23g; FIBER 2g; PROTEIN 3g