Top tips: taking your brownies to the next level

I love brownies. I make brownies probably once a fortnight. If I have a rough day or I just want to something to snack on whilst I watch TV, I am thoroughly indebted to the past version of myself who had the foresight to prepare a batch on the weekend. I do not believe I am alone in this all-consuming love for one of the greatest chocolate based creations ever to exist.

As you can imagine, over time I have picked up on the nuances of brownie baking that are applicable to almost every recipe, which make a major difference to the outcome. Some of these are thankfully emphasised in certain recipes, others are seemingly secrets of the trade. Luckily for you, I am going to share my top five tips.

Linked here is the BBC Good Foods brownie recipe, written by Orlando Murrin. If you follow these top tips, this recipe will be the only one you will ever need to achieve the perfect brownies. However, alternatives are easily found if you find that something about this recipe does not work for you. My top tips will be applicable to all manner of brownie recipes out there. 

1. Take your time folding

Most recipes will emphasise this for you, but a really key aspect of making brownies is folding in your melted chocolate, and then your dry ingredients, slowly. It is crucial that you don’t knock the air out of your mixture, else you will end up with a thin, flat brownie that more closely resembles a sheet of paper than a delicious snack.

To achieve this, you will want to fold the ingredients in gradually, using a figure of eight motion. This is difficult to explain using words, so see this helpful tutorial on what exactly you want to be doing here

Doing this correctly will give your brownies the height you want them to achieve, and ensure that they end up with a lovely, fudgy centre. 

2. Do not over-mix 

This one is fairly self-explanatory, but still undeniably important to the outcome. Once it looks like your dry ingredients and melted chocolate have been successfully integrated with your mixture, stop. Seriously – stop right there. You will ruin all the hard work and effort you put into getting a perfect air-filled mix if you continue the folding motion beyond the point of necessity. Even if you are thinking to yourself that it cannot hurt to give it one more stir, trust me, it can cause damage beyond belief. 

3. Leave your batter for 30 minutes

This is potentially my most controversial top tip, and I only stumbled onto it by accident. In a fit of hunger and sadness, I decided that 16 brownies was not going to suffice for the week ahead and instead I would double the quantity of brownies I was making. However, I only had one brownie tin.  What this meant was I had to leave half the prepared mixture in the mixing bowl for approximately an hour, whilst I baked and refrigerated the first batch. 

I was bitterly convinced that the second batch were going to be ruined by this: I had spent ages getting the perfect amount of air and height into them, only to them leave the mixture abandoned for at least half an hour. Imagine my surprise when the second batch were deemed by my housemates to be an improvement on the first! 

This is a slightly rouge piece of advice, and one I am not convinced many recipes would advise you to follow. But what is life without a little risk? This worked for me, my housemates and my friends. This could be my little contribution to the great brownie tapestry that exists out there in the baking world. 

4. Stick to the cooking time!

I know how tempting it is to leave the brownies in the oven when you think they still wobble a bit too much in the centre. This is a textbook mistake. Unless you like your brownies incredibly cake-like (in which case, you’ve clearly never eaten a decent brownie in your life), you will want to listen to this top tip very closely.

Trust in your recipe. Most of them will advise you to take your brownies out the oven after 25-30 minutes of baking. This is around and about the optimum time. Give your tray a gentle shake and if your edges remain still but the centre wobbles slightly, congratulations. You’ve nailed it. 

This is what gives you the beautiful, sensational gooeyness that we are all searching for in our brownies.

5. Refrigerate Your Brownies. 

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. This was the discovery that made me realise that it was possible to achieve that bakery-served brownie texture at home, rather than paying £3.95 just to get your brownie fix.

As soon as your brownies come out the oven, clear a space for them in your fridge and stick them in – still in the baking tin. The tin helps the brownies keep their height and structure, otherwise they can spread and thin out.

I recommend leaving them for as long as you can before serving. I chill mine overnight if possible, and then either reheat to serve as a dessert or simply let them return to room temperature in their own time. 

Refrigerating your brownies is what assures that you end up with the perfect texture. It solidifies the centre of the brownie that seemed slightly uncooked in such a way that it is fudgy without being wet. It also allows you to get a clean, crisp slice through the brownies. 

There you have it! I hope that these small pieces of advice help you make the best brownies out of you, your family and your friends. Get ready to be everyone’s favourite baker!

Featured Image: Harriet Banks

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