Everything You Need to Know About Making Brownies

Brownies are easy to make but here are tips so you don't mess up, no matter what.

IMAGE Lilen Uy

A chocolate brownie recipe is actually a basic baking recipe. It's really just about mixing a bunch of delicious ingredients in a big bowl and baking it in the oven until just right. 

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However, there are nuances that can make your brownies cakey, fudgy, and even a little bit of both if you know a few key baking tips and tricks. 

If you're curious how to bake the best batch of brownies in your life, here is all you need to know to do just that: 

Photo by Majoy Siason

1 Check the ratio of flour to butter for cakey or fudgy brownies.  

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If you love brownies with a little heft to them, where it's not gooey at all but is instead a solid square of moist crumbs all over, then cakey brownies are the brownies you prefer. If you love the fudgy, almost underbaked quality of brownies, where there is both gooey chocolate batter with patches of moist crumbs clinging to the square, fudgy brownies are your favorite.  

However, for most people, it's hard to tell if the recipe you're going to make is cakey or fudgy until after they've made and baked the brownie recipe and taken a bite into one. Here's what you need to know if the brownie recipe you're reading will be cakey or fudgy. 

You just need to check two ingredients, in particular, to tell if the brownie will be a cakey or fudgy brownie: the amounts of flour and butter.

For cakey brownie recipes, you'll notice that there is going to be a significant amount of flour compared to the butter measurements. It's the flour that will deliver the cakey texture that you're looking for. For example, if there's 1 cup all-purpose flour, the butter could measure just 1/4 cup.    

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Fudgy brownie recipes, meanwhile, will have about twice as much butter than a cakey brownie recipe will use but a minimal amount of flour. For example, the butter maybe 1 cup but only contain 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. You can also check and see if it has melted chocolate in the recipe as well. If it does, consider this ingredient, the melted chocolate, as part of the amount of butter or fat in the recipe, too.  

Looking over the brownie recipe is probably the most important task you can do when baking brownies. Take those few minutes to read over the recipe and see if it's the brownie recipe you've been looking for. 

Photo by Richard John from Pixabay

2 Add chunks as desired. 

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When it comes to brownies, adding some mix-ins can be a good thing. You break up the solid chocolatey bite with melted chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or other nuts, or even swirls of another flavor of batter. Add dollops of peanut butter, swirl in a chocolate hazelnut spread or cookie butter, press chunks of cookies, broken salty potato chips or pretzels, or spread a layer of gooey and sticky caramel over the brownie. These additions can only elevate the brownie recipe you choose and make it even more supremely irresistible than it already is.   

Photo by By Veganbaking.net from USA (Baking Dish Parchment) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

3 Line your baking pan with parchment paper. 

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No matter what baking pan you use, the best move you can do when it comes to choosing a pan is to line your pan with parchment paper. You can use glass, aluminum, or nonstick pans but with all three pans, it's best if you use parchment paper to at least line the bottom of the pan for easy removal. You can even leave an overhang (see picture above) so you can grasp those edges and just lift those cooled brownies perfectly, with little resistance, from the baking pan. It's easy and guarantees easy clean-up, too. Use two sheets of parchment as above or cut it to size.   

Photo by Riell Santos

4 Always underbake, never overbake. 

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Brownies are considered bar cookies. Somehow, just like chewy cookies are one reason to make homemade cookies, these squares are best when you have some control over how long this dessert bakes in the oven. That's because an overbaked brownie is one of the biggest baking sins.

While we always say that ovens are all different and you should always monitor the time something bakes in your oven when attempting new recipes, heed on the side of caution when baking brownies. Underbaked brownies will always be better than an overbaked brownie. For best results, check your brownie at least 5 to 10 minutes before the prescribed baking time ends so you can take that baking pan out at the right moment.    

Photo by Wikipedia Commons - Gmhofmann

6 Check your oven temperature. 

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Did you remember to preheat your oven? Do you have an oven thermometer to take the temperature accurately despite the oven having its own temperature gauge? These are key points to take into account, especially if you want that crinkly top that covers the surface of your brownie. Whether you like it cakey or fudgy, this crinkly top is easy to achieve if you have the right oven temperature. 

To get that signature crinkly top on your brownies, you can preheat your oven to a higher temperature, an additional 25 degrees F (4 degrees C), then lower it to the prescribed temperature as soon as you place the baking pan in the oven. High heat will make the fats in the brownie batter bubbling to the surface to create that top. Just watch for doneness if you do this so you don't accidentally overbake your brownies. 

Photo by Patrick Martires

6 Cool brownies completely. 

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We know it's hard to wait but there will always be an inner fight within ourselves as soon as that baking pan of brownies emerges from the oven because it will smell incredibly irresistible. Use some restraint to place that pan of brownies down onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before taking a knife to it. The difference between a perfectly fudgy brownie and a hot mess is this cooling process. 

When you're finally ready to slice into that pan of brownies, remember two things: use a sharp knife and clean your knife before every slice for perfect squares that you can literally sink your teeth into with gusto. 

Try these brownie recipes or any of our other best brownies recipes online, too:  

    

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