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Brownie help needed

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hello again.

 

I decided to make brownies next week and read a lot about them. I think I will prefer fudge or chewy brownies. However, many of the recipes and tips contradict each other so I would like some help as to how to make the real fudge brownies.

 

Do I use cocoa or chocolate? Or both? If I use chocolate, what kind?

 

Do the original brownies have nuts? I want to make the original thing, and if nuts are blocking the chocolate flavour and texture I would rather omit them, but if they only complement it as it should be then I would go for almonds or walnuts in them.

 

What do I bake them on? Some say greased pan, others parchment paper, I've also heard aluminium foil with extra on the sides to simply take the entire block of brownies, put in the fridge and cut when cooled. What do you think is the best?

 

Any other help, tips and recipes regarding brownies are welcome. I don't have a lot of experience with brownies, I have hardly ever eaten them (they're rare in my country - imagine that), but I really like to make an original brownie that I would love.

 

Thank you :)

post #2 of 25

I prefer using chocolate to cocoa but some good brownies can be made with cocoa too. Depending on the recipe I use either 82% (very dark) or 99% no sugar chocolate.  I prefer a more cake like texture and don't use nuts as several people I give these too have allergies. My recipe may not be what you are looking for but I will post at the bottom, I am not sure where I obtained it but it was either from a blog somewhere or perhaps a chocolatiers website.

 

I have done these brownies once and they were indeed very chewy/fudgy http://www.scharffenberger.com/text/pre0105.htm take special note of using a metal pan and the ice bath dunk for cooling which ensures rapid cooling to retain moisture and make them more fudgy than if left to cool on a rack.  I do buy their chocolate almost exclusively because they are a local company so I can get orders next day.   Any good quality dark chocolate will make excellent brownies. 

 

Not sure where you are but Scharffenberger, Valrhona (France), and lindt's "Excellence" line are....well.... excellent. 

 

 

My favorite brownies:

 

6 ounces 70% or 82% Chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I have substituted white sugar when i was out if brown sugar and it was late night so no stores were open with good results)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350 F.

Melt chocolate and butter boal on pot of water heated to a bare simmer, 180-200 degrees, do not boil. Stir sugar into chocolate until blended.
remove bowl from heat and add eggs and vanilla beating well.  Stir in flour. Spread into a buttered 8" x 8" baking pan (you can also line with parchment to make sure they come out easily).
Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes up with crumbs (not batter).

Cool completely on wire rack then cut and store in airtight container for up to 3 days.


if you want a little extra decadence mix up some ganache and drizzle over the brownies or temper a batch of chocolate and dip them for a brownie candy bar. Either way when I make a batch for the office they are gone in an hour or less and everyone says they are the best brownies they have ever had.  Some of that I am sure is just being polite to the sweet treat bringer but they definately are full of chocolate goodness.

 

 

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the help. About using a metal pan, I have an enamel pan that I use for these purposes, but seeing as it is still metal I don't see it being a problem. Also, about yourself and not others, would you prefer it with or without nuts? I am afraid that the nuts might get in the way of the chocolatey flavour and texture, which might be better enjoyed if alone. If not adding chopped nuts, I could add slivered almonds on top so that they keep their chocolatey texture and flavour but are not as plain. I know that most of you would love at this point, but I have really little experience with eating brownies and would rather rely on your own opinion and taste.

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

After looking at many recipes I payed this one special attention:

 

http://divyascookbook.blogspot.com/2010/05/best-chocolate-fudge-brownies.html

 

What do you think about it? Anything to add or modify? Also, the baking time seems quite wide, 20 to 35 minutes, any advices for this? Thanks

post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingTasty View Post

Thanks for all the help. About using a metal pan, I have an enamel pan that I use for these purposes, but seeing as it is still metal I don't see it being a problem. Also, about yourself and not others, would you prefer it with or without nuts? I am afraid that the nuts might get in the way of the chocolatey flavour and texture, which might be better enjoyed if alone. If not adding chopped nuts, I could add slivered almonds on top so that they keep their chocolatey texture and flavour but are not as plain. I know that most of you would love at this point, but I have really little experience with eating brownies and would rather rely on your own opinion and taste.


IMHO if the nuts you are putting in overpower the chocolate flavor then you've either added way to many or your chocolate just isn't chocolate favored enough.

 

post #6 of 25

Personally, I don't like nuts in brownies, because they take away from the texture of chewiness that i like.  But many people like them, and it's really a matter of personal preference.  I can tell you that when i was a kid, no brownies were sold anywhere without walnuts. 

I suspect that the oiliness of the nuts may have contributed to the chewiness of the final product.  I always thought cake-like brownies were just brownies that didn;t come out right.  It seems to me they're cake, not brownies.  Nothing wrong with chocolate cake squares, but why would they be called brownies then?  But looking at your recipe mastersniper, it seems they would actually be chewy more than cakey.  (Perhaps there's been an escalation on chewiness to the point that some brownies today are practically wet and extremely dense, so what used to be considered chewy are now considered cakey?)

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 

Finally siduri :) Thanks for the help, and that's what my point was, the nuts getting in the way of the unique brownie texture. I'll most probably put slivered almonds on top, because they add to its look and uniqueness but don't disturb the texture.

 

About my recipe, I do want them to be more chewy and fudge brownies than cake, I am sure that cake brownies would look like cocoa cake sponge without a filling or an icing to me :) And I don't like icing my brownies, they are cookies after all..

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

Another thing, is it better to cool them in an ice bath or the refrigerator or just let them cool at room temperature?

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

Also (triple posting..), this recipe says to first mix the melted butter and cocoa, and then add it to the sugar/egg mixture. This seems quite unusual to me, is it an okay process, should the butter be cooled or not?

post #10 of 25

The usual procedure for brownies is, i believe, essential for the texture of denseness and chewiness. 

 

You usually use unsweetened baking chocolate but that is pretty much not available in europe (now in italy I;ve found a special lindt "exquisite" or something like that, which is 99% chocolate, but it's marketed as some special eating chocolate for... for whom?  masochists?  totally unsweetened?  anyway, it has a price tag equal to its classification as gourmet special food.)

 

I make them with cocoa. 

 

Anyway, with chocolate, you melt it with the butter, then add the sugar (the sugar cools the butter enough so the eggs don;t cook) and then add the eggs one at a time, then the flour, salt and baking powder. 

 

I make them with cocoa and mix the cocoa with the FLOUR not with the butter.  It makes no sense to add the cocoa with the butter, because it's hard to mix in.  You probably found a recipe that calls for that because someone figured that the original recipe mixes in the chocolate with the butter - but the chocolate is essentially meltable while cocoa is not.  Also note that there is way more butter necessary toi compensate the lack of the cocoa butter that chocolate has. 

 

I tried once making them with a creaming method and another time with a beating the eggs with the sugar then adding melted butter then the dry, and neither came out well - that, after all, is a cake method and these are not supposed to be cake, but fudgy. 

 

here's my recipe

 

Preheat oven to 175 C or  350 F

grease a 15 inch X 10 inch low baking pan (you'll have to calculate the centimeters)

 

 

melt 250 GMS BUTTER in a large pot

ad 2 1/2 CUPS SUGAR (500 GM - yes, really that much, that's what contributes to the texture) (note a cup of sugar is 200 gms, a cup flour is `140 gms)

add  5 EGGS one at a time, mixing each in

mix together in a separate container:

1 1/4 CUP FLOUR

2/3 CUP COCOA (UNSWEETENED)  (consider that a cup of flour and of cocoa is ROUGHLY 140 gms - I hate math, so you do the calculation )

1 TSP BAKING POWDER

1 TSP SALT

 

Add the dry ingredients all at once, mix only till combined and no flour is visible, pour into pan, cook until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry but with some crumbs of the brownie attached to it. 

remove from oven, let cool on counter on a rack. 

Cool completely before removing.  no need for ice or anything, and that would probably just cause condensation and sogginess

 

As i said, the TRADITIONAL brownie (from when i was a kid, back in the fifties) was always with walnuts.  I personally don;t like them that way, and don;t put them in, but you were asking for traditional.  The commonest ones you see nowadays is without walnuts.  Do them how you most enjoy them!

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 

Your recipe is pretty much the same as the one I had posted (the ingredients part, not the instructions) except that you use a lot less butter, and of course it is doubled. I understand that what "my" recipe had was a tad too much but won't this make them less moist? Because if not I would always prefer the lower fat version.

 

Cool completely before removing. - this means in the pan that they were baking in, right?

 

Also, I melt the butter, while it is still hot, I add the sugar and stir, add the eggs one by one and beat with electric mixer, right?

 

 

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

By my calculations, your recipe calls for 250 gr. (125 gr. when halved) butter while "mine" calls for 170 gr. As a compromise, I was thinking of using 150 gr. butter, or perhaps 125 gr. Do you think that will be fine? :)

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingTasty View Post

Your recipe is pretty much the same as the one I had posted (the ingredients part, not the instructions) except that you use a lot less butter, and of course it is doubled. I understand that what "my" recipe had was a tad too much but won't this make them less moist? Because if not I would always prefer the lower fat version.

 

I'm not sure here, i calculated that if i double your recipe,

yours   - 1 1/2 cup butter,      2 cups sugar.       1 cup flour

mine      2 1/4 cup butter,     2 1/2 cup sugar,    1 1/4 cup flour

 

that means mine has quite a lot MORE butter not less.  Butter adds to moistness, as does sugar.   

 

Cool completely before removing. - this means in the pan that they were baking in, right?

Yes, before removing from the baking pan.  Just put it on the counter on a trivet or rack. 

 

Also, I melt the butter, while it is still hot, I add the sugar and stir, add the eggs one by one and beat with electric mixer, right?

Yes, add thye sugar while it's hot, and the sugar will cool it enough so the butter doesn;t cook the eggs - i don't use a mixer, just mix it up with a wooden spoon.  You don;t want to incorporate a lot of air, because if it's too light it will rise higher and be drier.  Though you can use the electric mixer if you want, just don;t try to make it all frothy, just mix to incorporate them. 

 


I also noticed your recipe calls for egg or egg white.  I find egg whites make things dry, while yolks make them moist.  I wouldn;t use egg whites only in brownies,. 

 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

16 tablespoons = 2 sticks = 1 cup

8 ounces

227 grams

 

That's for one cup butter, which is supposed to be 227 grams, so yours is a little less than 1 1/4 and mine is 1 1/2.. I use this converter, so far it has been very accurate:

 

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/equiv.htm

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm definitely going with 2 whole eggs.. Just whites didn't make any sense in brownies, even for me :)

post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingTasty View Post

16 tablespoons = 2 sticks = 1 cup

8 ounces

227 grams

 

That's for one cup butter, which is supposed to be 227 grams, so yours is a little less than 1 1/4 and mine is 1 1/2.. I use this converter, so far it has been very accurate:

 

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/equiv.htm


Oh my god, you're right!   I went and dumped my 250 gram package of butter into 4 cups of water and the water went up to 5 cups, not 5 1/4 cups as i would have expected with my conversion chart.   I can't believe that for about 25 years i've been weighing the butter with the conversion chart i have which is WRONG!!!  which goes to show how the precise to the gram measurements are not so necessary as everyone says, since my cakes, i guarantee you, always come out amazingly well. 

 

One thing to keep in mind is that european flour is different from american flour.and some american recipes will come out really badly if you don;t decrease the butter and/or increase the flour.  I seem to remember from another post that you are in europe?  if so you should keep that in mind.  Though i think some extra butter in brownies is not a problem, the problem would be for piecrust and cookies and some cakes.  At the beginning all my pies and cookies came out bad, and most cakes came out dense and greasy. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I don't know why people bother with cups, I much more prefer grams. I have spent more money on trying to find a good measuring cup than on my one weighing scale.. but that's me..

 

Anyway, yes I am in Europe, so what amount of butter do you recommend I use? My recipe (170 gr), your recipe (125 gr) or a compromise (150 gr)? I know it might not matter that much but I don't want them to be overgreasy or undermoist (I seem to be inventing new words..)

post #18 of 25

I'm one of the rare people here who generally prefers cups, except to measure butter, which is a pain and you have to use the archimedes trick of water displacement. 

I don't really know which recipe would come oput best, but my guess is they both would.  Mine comes out good, anyway, i can tell you that.  I do it all the time. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #19 of 25

sorry I was unable to reply over the weekend but here we go.

 

SomethingTasty

Q: I have an enamel pan that I use for these purposes, but seeing as it is still metal I don't see it being a problem

A: The temperature shock from 350 degrees into ice would cause the enable to crack I would not recommend this cooling rather, cool on a rack for 30 mins then put in fridge maybe?

 

Q: would you prefer it with or without nuts?

A: I prefer without nuts, but have made some with 3/4 cups walnuts or hazzlenuts crushed and roasted just on top and they were fine definately not going to overwhelm the chocolate flavor in my recipe unless you are adding like 2 cups of nuts and even then I doubt it could hide the chocolate.

 

siduri

Q:But looking at your recipe mastersniper, it seems they would actually be chewy more than cakey

A: yes they are chewy and not at all like cake,  but definately more chewy cookie texture not a fudgy/wet/greasy as some local bakeries have been putting out the past few years.

 

Q: Yeah, I don't know why people bother with cups, I much more prefer grams

A: many folks here in the states don't weigh ingredients so i posted in cups vs weights.  The one exception is bread formulas I always use weights because it makes a huge difference if you miss measure what I call A cup (4.75 oz  (135 gr) for All purpose flour) as 150gr and it's 1 cup recipe like these brownies its not a huge issue.  if on the other hand you are making a 6 cup bread recipe you are off by 90g or about 3/4 cup  which will make a difference.

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

I made them, they came out pretty much successful, except for the almond extract which I think was overpowering. Anyway, I think that the texture and moistness was as it should be, so next time I'll try the recipe without the almond extract and slivered almonds. Also, I used around 150 gr. butter.

 

Thanks to everyone who replied :)

post #21 of 25

Are you sure you did not mistake Vanilla extract for Almond?   I have never tried almond extract but sounds okay in a small amount 1/4 tsp or something for just a hint of the flavor.  a full 2 tsp of almond would be pretty strong if you mixed them up.

post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 

No, I put it intentionally, after reading in another recipe that they replaced the vanilla and almond I thought it would be a good day so I put not one but two tsp.. The flavour is actually good, a bit too strong on the almond note but it goes well with the chocolate. It's the aroma that's a bit too overpowering.

post #23 of 25

Almond extract is intense - way overpowering in anything  Personally it makes me not able to eat whatever it;s in, I find it really awful.  Normally vanilla enahances the chocolate flavor, but almond extract stands out sharply.

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

We know you with the bitter almonds.. :) Frankly, the combination is good, at least for me, but it wouldn't hurt to have less of it - nevermind though, they're still great

post #25 of 25

Well, you were concerned that nuts might take away from the chocolate flavor, but nuts are actually very subtle - while extracts are very intense, like them or not, and while vanilla extract enhances chocolate (coffee does too) almond extract is distracting from it - like lemon extract would be, or some other intense flavor.  So if your question is how to make it very chocolatey, then leave out the almond extract. 

Then, if you want to make them for ME, then definitely no almond extract!smile.gif

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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