Updated: Sep 7, 2021
One of the questions that have probably tormented every beginner baker out there is, "How do I make the perfect brownies?"
Brownies are one of the most popular desserts among all sorts of bakers: beginners, intermediate, and pros. Brownies are quite simple, yet everything can go wrong so effortlessly. Over the years, I have tried tons of recipes and had even more failures. Underdone, overdone, greasy, and crumbly brownies - I have done it all. I'm no expert, but I think I might have cracked the code to achieve perfectly fudgy brownies.
A lot of variables affect how your brownies turn out. The first thing you should ask yourself is, "How do you want your brownies?" Do you want a cakey brownie or a fudgy brownie? A cakey brownie is, well, light and cake-like in texture, whereas a fudgy brownie is gooey, dense, and melt-in-the-mouth.
I think the recipe in this guide is perfect because the brownies are super fudgy with the right amount of lightness to it. I'm not too fond of extremely fudgy brownies that get stuck to your teeth and ruin the entire eating experience. I love fudgy brownies, but I wanted to tone down the extreme stickiness and density that they have, so that's what I did for this recipe.
So, the ingredients and their quantities you need to use in your brownie entirely depend on how you want the result to look like, whether you want a light and cakey texture or if you want a fudgy and dense brownie, whether you want a crackly top or not and so on.
Let's now understand what each ingredient in a brownie does in detail.
What's In A Brownie?
All brownies are made of the same ingredients; it is the ratios in which these ingredients are used that massively affect how they look at the end. Every brownie ever is made up of flour, sugar, chocolate, fat like butter or oil, and eggs.
Let us briefly understand what each ingredient does for the brownie:
Flour: Most brownies use all-purpose flour. There isn't a lot of flour that usually goes into the brownie batter, but it profoundly affects the brownie's consistency. The more flour in your recipe, the cakier its texture will be. I find that all-purpose flour retains moisture far better than whole wheat flour, so using all-purpose flour in brownies makes them moist and soft.
Sugar: Sugar, apart from being the primary sweetener, affects a brownie's consistency as well as makes it tender. If you read my post on 25-Minute Chocolate Chip Cookies, you might remember how white granulated sugar and brown sugar affect a baked good.
Granulated sugar doesn't retain moisture very well, but it does make the brownie crispier. Brown sugar, on the other hand, retains moisture substantially better and results in a chewy and fudgy brownie. I use equal parts of brown and white sugar for this recipe, as I'm going for a brownie that's the best of both worlds.
Chocolate: Chocolate is, of course, the main flavor component of a brownie—the type of chocolate you use influences highly how the brownies turn out. All you need to know is that if you use cocoa powder, your brownies will be cakey, and if you use melted chocolate, your brownies will be fudgy. I've used both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in this recipe, more melted chocolate because these brownies lean towards the fudgier side.
And, please use semisweet or unsweetened dark chocolate, it makes all the difference. Moreover, milk chocolate has varying quantities of sugar and milk, which will alter the brownies' taste and look.
Fats: Butter or oil, that is the question. Both butter and oil play the role of tenderizing the brownies. And, while butter is the obvious choice, consider giving the oil a chance. The oil keeps brownies tender and moist for longer, but it doesn't do much in the flavor department, whereas butter elevates the brownie's chocolate flavor. Butter also contains milk solids which react with the leaveners in the recipe, allowing the brownie to aerate a little.
Binders and leaveners: We're talking about eggs here. Eggs multitask when it comes to brownies, they act as emulsifiers, binding agents, and a leavening agent. A leavening agent is one which causes a baked good to rise in the oven. Eggs, once beaten into the batter, create air pockets that cause the brownies to leaven a little while baking.
I also like to use a little bit of baking powder in this recipe to prevent the brownies from being intensely fudgy. Eggs are also responsible for the signature crackly top that I love to see in a brownie. The longer you beat the eggs for, the more meringue-like they'll become and give you that gorgeous flakey top. I like to remove the brownies from the oven halfway through baking and bang them on the countertop to crack the top and even out the batter.
Now, I know that there a lot of people out there that dislike baking with eggs. A suitable replacement for eggs in brownies would be some thick yogurt with baking soda mixed in it. Baking soda reacts with the acids present in yogurt, replicating the rise that eggs would give you otherwise. Yogurt also acts as a binding agent in the batter. But by using yogurt, you won't get the crackly top.
Add-ons: Brownies make a gorgeous blank canvas. You can add in pretty much anything you like, chocolate chips, nuts, dry fruits, peanut butter, caramel, you name it. I would suggest that if you're using something with the consistency of peanut butter, add it to the top and swirl it in with a toothpick or a skewer instead of messing with the batter's texture.
With our mini-lesson on brownie science completed, let us move forward to what equipment you need for this recipe!
Brownies are a one-bowl recipe, okay, maybe two bowls at most. And you don't need an electric mixer or any fancy equipment, just a wire whisk, and a spatula.
Now, the type of pan; you might think that the pan's material heavily impacts how the brownies look. It does, but not that much. You can use a glass dish, a metal pan, or even a ceramic dish.
Glass circulates heat evenly, but it also retains heat for much longer. Glass won't affect how the brownies bake that much, but they will take longer to cool. The opposite goes for a ceramic dish as it takes a longer time to heat up. So, if you're looking for a fuss-free pan to work with, use a metal baking dish.
I use an 8x8 inch metal baking pan for this recipe.
You also need parchment paper. I recommend using parchment paper while making brownies because it makes removal extremely easy, and you won't need to scrape down the sides and bottom if accidents happen. Also, leave overhangs on the sides of the pan so you can smoothly lift the brownies out.
With that said, below listed is every piece of equipment you need to make these brownies (apart from the measuring tools and oven):
A medium-sized mixing bowl
A heat-safe bowl
A mesh sieve
A wire whisk
A rubber spatula
An 8x8 inch baking pan
The Recipe For The Perfect Brownies
Time: 40 minutes
Yields: One 8x8 inch sheet of brownie
INGREDIENTS (Click For Grams To Cups Converter)
200 grams (1 ¼ cup) chopped dark chocolate
56 grams (¼ cup) oil
56 grams (¼ cup) butter
100 grams (½ cup) brown sugar
100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)
32 grams (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
85 grams (⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 190°C. Grease an 8x8 inch square tin and line it with parchment paper.
In a bowl, add 170 grams (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) of the chopped dark chocolate and butter. Melt it in the microwave for about a minute, or over a double-boiler, and then stir until you see a smooth, lump-free mixture.
In a different bowl, add the oil, sugar, and eggs and whisk for at least 2 minutes.
Pour in the melted chocolate-butter mixture, vanilla extract, and coffee (if you want to), and whisk for three more minutes. Use an electric mixer if the whisking is exhausting you.
Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Add the salt.
Fold the dry ingredients in, gently, with a silicone spatula.
Add the remaining chopped chocolate and fold it in gently.
Pour the batter into the prepared 8x8 inch tin that has been greased and lined with parchment paper (leave overhangs on the sides).
Bake in the preheated oven at 190°C for 20-25 minutes.
About 12-15 minutes into baking, take the brownies out and bang them on the counter a couple of times. Put them back in the oven and bake for the remaining time.
Remove the pan from the oven, let the brownies sit in the pan for 20 minutes. Lift them out using the parchment overhangs. Let the brownies cool for another 30-40 minutes before slicing and serving.
For an eggless variant of this recipe, use 80 grams (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) of yogurt mixed with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and then continue with the recipe. Do note that by omitting eggs, you won't get the crackly top on your brownies, and they will be more cakey than fudgy.