I was sitting in my kitchen reading blogs on brownies. Some of you make wonderful sounding brownies and other chocolate goodies! So I began to contemplate brownies. I got out all the chocolate in my baking pantry to see what is there. I have semi-sweet chips, Special Dark Chips, German’s chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, Hershey’s Natural cocoa, and Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa. These are out on the counter when son walks in and asks what I am making. When I mention I was thinking of brownies, he says he likes chewy, not cakey, and no add-ins such as chocolate chips or nuts. He also likes the shiny crust on top. Me, too.
Recipes abound! I bring out a few recipes and am undecided. He refers me to look at Shirley Corriher’s book Bakewise. After all, he says, he made the cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and it was great. So I start reading the section on brownies. Very interesting. I had just been reading the King Arthur Flour blog on brownies and the shiny crust. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2015/05/31/make-brownies-shiny-crust/ . There is no real agreement on what makes cakey, shiny crusts, etc. I know that my favorite brownies were very chewy and came from a recipe on the back of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips way back in the 1980s. I have lost that little clipping and have been searching for the best brownie recipe ever since. For about 10 months in 1999 I made a batch of brownies weekly and tested them on my teenagers and their friends. I did not have a standard rating scale but only listed where the recipe came from. After these many trials the best brownies were determined…to be from a mix! It did not even matter which brand. The box brownies were chewy and always had the shiny crust!!
That was then, this is now. I have honed my baking skills and knowledge and much less frequently make brownies from a box. That elusive perfect brownie is still out there. Brownie recipes that I have used make up well and do not go uneaten. I just have not determined a “go-to” standard recipe. Brownies are basically butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and flour.
We decide to go with the Shirley’s Fudgy Brownies from Bakewise, page 411-412. This recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of butter and four different sugars. It also uses 4 whole eggs and an additional 3 egg yolks. Wow! We run to the grocery to get the light corn syrup as the fourth sugar. There is also powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. For the chocolate the recipe calls for 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped, and 1 ounce German’s chocolate. There are a lot of ingredients in these brownies! We left out the pecans.
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ounce German’s Sweet Chocolate
- 4 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups spooned and leveled bleached all=purpose flour
(In reading this now I realize that I only used ¾ cups of packed brown sugar but also used ¾ cups granulated. The page must have flipped over to the Shirley’s Cakey Brownies recipe! No worries!)
Her instructions are to melt the butter with the chocolate. In a separate bowl beat the eggs to blend the whites and yolks and then add the other ingredients, except for the flour. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the flour without over beating.
We get all this put together. In beating the egg mixture I beat them in the stand mixer for a few minutes more because this will give the shiny crust. Apparently it is a “meringue” from the egg whites and sugar that rises to the top of the bake.
The oven has been preheated to just 300 degrees F. All ready to go in but son has the idea it should sit in the pan a bit to even itself out. While I wait for that to happen I reread the recipe. OOPS!!! I only used half the amount of butter. I used 1 ½ sticks instead of 1 ½ cups! What to do?
I scrape the batter back into the mixing bowl. I melt another 1 ½ sticks of butter and add that to the batter and blend. This is a necessary step because the fat to flour ratio makes the difference between fudgy and cakey.
I then pour this back into a re-prepared 13 x 9 inch baking pan and pop it into the oven. This time I don’t bother with the foil just sprayed the pan. It has taken 45 minutes of prep time at this point. Well, 5 of those minutes were adding in the butter that I had forgotten to add in the first place by my miscalculations!
52 minutes later a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Take this out of the oven right now so as to avoid overbaking. We want fudgy and chewy. There is definitely a shiny crackling crust! That was a success.
Do you know of anyone, ANYONE, who waits until the brownies completely cool before cutting? I don’t think it is a natural thing to do. I would be concerned if there were a chocolate brownie lover out there who actually follows that step of these recipes. Granted, cool brownies cut more cleanly. But why is that important? Son pokes and prods at the side and takes a nibble. The only thing left to do is to actually cut a square and taste it. Very rich and sweet. It is fudgy and has its shiny crust.
These are successful but the recipe is a bit too fussy to become a “go-to” for me. It is a “keeper” though because it is in a book. The book is worth reading as she explains the science of baking and some history of recipes and is just plain interesting.
Some of these will need to be individually wrapped and frozen for later enjoyment.