In our last issue, we presented some tips for great brownies. With a little feedback, we’ve compiled more.
So that you only have to keep track of one document, you’ll find them all in one document with the newer tips added to the top of last week’s list. If you are a brownie baker, you’ll want these tips.
1. What’s the best way to melt butter and chocolate together? We like to use the microwave. With many recipes, you can melt the chocolate and butter in the mixing bowl and have a one-bowl recipe. Melt the butter first. Chop the chocolate into bits and add that to the melted butter. Stir gently. If the chocolate is not entirely melted, heat again.
2. Why is the consistency of my batter different each time I make my favorite recipe? It could be the heat of the melted butter and chocolate mixture. The warmer the melted butter and chocolate mixture, the thinner the batter.
3. Can I leave the nuts out of my brownie recipe? Yes but the texture of the brownies will be different. Without the nuts, the brownies will be much denser.
4. How do I make my brownies less cake-like and more dense and moist? Try reducing the flour by one-third. It’s all that butter, eggs, and sugar compared to a relatively small proportion of flour that makes brownies dense. Brownies seem to be very forgiving and allow for experimentation.
5. How do I tell when my brownies are done? The appearance of the brownies in the pan will change with a dryer, less-glossy look. The brownies will be firmer. Most cookbooks tell you to stick a knife or a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it is cake-like and done, it will come out clean. A dense brownie will still have some moist crumbs sticking to the toothpick when it is done. Brownies over baked for even a couple minutes will be much drier.
6. Will my brownies continue to bake in the pan? Yes. Heavy glass pans retain heat better and will cause brownies to continue cookie longer. You can always pull the pan out just a few minutes early.
7. Will the type of pan that I use affect baking times? Yes. Baking times is one of the great variables in baking. The pan as well as the oven, the shelf location, and the ingredients, affect baking times. Check your baked goods at least five minutes before the allotted time. Dark pans tend to bake quicker than light pans. A silver pan may take much longer to bake.
8. Can I drizzle chocolate over my brownies? Yes. Carefully melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave with one teaspoon of shortening added for each three ounces of chocolate or 1/2 cup of chips. The shortening will help the chocolate set up.
9. How do you prepare the pan for brownies? We usually line our pan with parchment paper or foil. Here’s how you do it: Lightly grease the pan with butter or shortening, then line the pan with parchment paper or foil. The butter or shortening will hold the paper in place. Make certain that the paper protrudes up the sides of the pan. After the brownies are baked and have partially cooled, grab the edges of the paper and lift the cake to a cutting board. Cut the cake into nice, neat squares on the cutting board using a ruler.
10. Do you like your brownies extra chewy? Try using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than does all-purpose. Gluten creates the chewy texture that we find in good bread and will make your brownies chewier. Be sure and mix your brownie batter for several minutes to develop the gluten strands.
11. Measure your flour properly. Carefully spoon the flour into your measure. If you did and scoop, you will pack the flour and the brownies will turn out more cake-like.
12. Can I double my batch? Certainly. A recipe calling for an 8 x 8-inch pan can be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan. A recipe calling for 9 x 13-inch pan can be doubled and baked in half-sheet pan, 12 x 18-inches. If you take a recipe that calls for a 9 x 13-inch pan and multiple it by 1.5, you can use a 10 x15-inch pan.
13. How long do I need to let my brownies cool? On a wire rack in the kitchen, they should cool for four or five hours. We cheat and often put them in the refrigerator after a half hour. We’ve even been known to put them in the freezing compartment for a half hour. The brownies should be completely cooled before cutting or trying to lift the cake from the pan.
14. How do you make nice, clean cuts when cutting brownies? We usually trim the edges so that the cookies will be uniform. Use a sharp knife and wipe the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
15. How do you store brownies? For short-term storage, layer them between wax paper or parchment sheets inside of a container with a tight-fitting lid. You can store your brownies this way for up to five days. For longer-term storage, freeze them. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a heavy plastic bag. They will last for several months.