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Kerry Beal

Brownies -- Bake-Off I

220 posts in this topic

Actually helenjp, like you I was trying to make my brownies less sweet - but I also found beyond a certain point it affected the whole taste of it and and was no longer so pleasurable to eat. (Gave away a few batches that just didn't work out when I cut the sugar too much - apart from the texture issue you mentioned, the taste was just too non-brownie-ish).

But one thing to try is subbing some unsweetened chocolate in recipes that call for semi-sweet.

And, when you eat them cold straight from the refrigerator they don't taste as sweet as when you eat them at room temp. Or I guess the secret is eating them in moderation. :smile:

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The Quadruple Chocolate brownie recipe from Michael Recchiutti is wonderful. I underbake them until they're just barely set in the middle, then cool them overnight and slice the next day. They're soooo fudgy and moist. I replace 2/3 cup of the flour in the recipe with cocoa so they're extra dark, and cut the sugar back a little bit. I think the key is the low baking temperature (300 degrees F). These are my new favourite. (I know, I know, I have a new favourite every few months.  :laugh: )

Hey Ling, I guess on the brownie scale this must mean you lean firmly towards fudgy rather than chewy ? :biggrin:

When you replace some of the flour with cocoa does it make the brownies even fudgier and with less of a chewy crumb? OT but I just got a can of Hershey's Special Dark (new to our supermarket!) so I want to use it somewhere.

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I was discussing peanutbutter cupcakes with Klary and she directed me to the Nigella Lawson site. Because of PMS, I made these instead:

Marvelous Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

gallery_48583_3621_257674.jpg

They were fudgy, sinfully good .... :wub: I might have another square right now.... Hey, I need it! :shock:


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Hmmm, so tons of sugar is essential for crackly tops?

That explains why I never get crackly tops.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Hmmm, so tons of sugar is essential for crackly tops?

That explains why I never get crackly tops.

would be interesting to try sprinkling some sugar (suprefine?) on top right before baking.

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The King Arthur authors say that having more of the sugar dissolve in the butter (their whole grain brownie recipe has the butter and sugar heated together) gives you the nice crackly shiny top.

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The Quadruple Chocolate brownie recipe from Michael Recchiutti is wonderful. I underbake them until they're just barely set in the middle, then cool them overnight and slice the next day. They're soooo fudgy and moist. I replace 2/3 cup of the flour in the recipe with cocoa so they're extra dark, and cut the sugar back a little bit. I think the key is the low baking temperature (300 degrees F). These are my new favourite. (I know, I know, I have a new favourite every few months.  :laugh: )

Hey Ling, I guess on the brownie scale this must mean you lean firmly towards fudgy rather than chewy ? :biggrin:

When you replace some of the flour with cocoa does it make the brownies even fudgier and with less of a chewy crumb? OT but I just got a can of Hershey's Special Dark (new to our supermarket!) so I want to use it somewhere.

Yes, I definitely like fudgy more than chewy. Chewy brownies usually have proportionately more flour in the recipe, don't they? I would definitely say more cocoa, less flour = darker and fudgier. Mmmm... Also, it is not as sweet since the cocoa is bitter, and I reduce the amount of sugar by a little too.

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I'm just resurrecting this thread. Anyone do any brownie testing/tasting lately?


There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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I am making the WP brownies and the pepper ones today- wanted a decadent food to take to a nearby winery where I will whittle away an afternoon and I think these fit the bill. I'm imagining the addition of salt and pepper will enhance a Norton and if not a sweet white should work. Plus, if I take them with me I'll have to share-brownies are the one thing that I can not stop eating!!


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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I'm starting to tinker with the Supernatural. I'm going for less sweet and still adding the salted caramel. I'm close, but not quite there yet. Will post when I'm ready..!


foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Sorry, I really meant blondies (the first recipe I found for them called them "caramel bars" or something like that). I haven't tried the brownies that use caramel chips, as I've never seen them for sale in Japan

Even though I'm not a big chocolate fan, I really wanted the chocolate flavour of the brownie part. And for me, blondies just aren't caramel-y enough for what I wanted. But I do like blondies as blondies, but not as caramel brownies.

Maybe it would be OK to bake them as a layered bar cookie, with a shortbready-base and just a thin layer of the brownie stuff on top??

That sounds good! Shortbready base, caramel layer, then brownie on top! I'd try that...if I weren't so lazy!

And an update about my caramel brownies...after two days, I liked them a lot more. The flaws of the Baker's seemed to fade a bit, and the caramel part became nice and chewy--especially the caramel that didn't get any brownie on it. The caramel brownies also seemed to get less sweet as time went on.

Other people's opinions were far less critical than mine. One person said they were "orgasmic", and another made little moans as she ate hers. Even my Japanese co-workers really liked them, despite their sweetness. I saved the last few for my mother (she came to Japan for my birthday and mother's day), and she said they were "excellent". She's not a big fan of chocolate or supersweet things, either, and she's normally as critical of food as I am (she once had to write a review of a dinner I made for a home ec class, and she wrote, "The burnt onions added an interesting flavour to the dish").

I would definitely make these again, using the same brownie recipe, and the same caramels but perhaps using less than 200g for the same amount of cream, or adding more cream to 200g of caramels. Perhaps that would help tame the sweetness. And I would definitely use different chocolate, so that means my next experiment will have to wait till the fall.

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Loved the brownies with salt!!!

Had to use the Baker's one bowl recipe since I had run low on butter from the pepper brownies, but added some salt to the batter and then sprinkled about 1/2 of a teaspoon salt on top. MMM! They were a favorite with everyone else too.

Will definitely make them again-even if I use a different brownie recipe I'll still do the salt.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Loved the brownies with salt!!!

Had to use the Baker's one bowl recipe since I had run low on butter from the pepper brownies, but added some salt to the batter and then sprinkled about 1/2 of a teaspoon salt on top. MMM! They were a favorite with everyone else too. 

Will definitely make them again-even if I use a different brownie recipe I'll still do the salt.

Did you sprinkle the salt on before baking or after? What kind of salt did you use?

The first time I tried it, I sprinkled salt just on one piece of already baked brownie. It was very coarse sel marin de guerande. It actually made the brownie taste bad, because it brought out all the flaws of the chocolate I used. I'm going to use better chocolate next time, but still don't know how to incorporate the salt into it (sprinkle before or after baking?).

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I made 2 batches of brownies this am--the Chewy brownies from Fine Cooking previously mentioned in this thread and Classic Bittersweet Brownies from Alice Medrich. I think the flavor is much cleaner and intensely chocolate in the Medrich brownies. I followed her technique of refrigerating the dough overnight then bringing to room temp prior to baking. These are not for cake-y brownie lovers--very fudge-y and dense. I used 70% Scharfenberger for these. I will admit that I had only Baker's to use in the Chewy Brownies and that could have contributed to the less favorable flavor. Medrich instructs against using an ice water bath for 66%-72% chocolate and I followed that suggestion.

Alice Medrich has different techniques for these brownies and the instructions can be found on the Fine Cooking CooksTalk forum using #19089.1 to search. I think they are worth the effort. In the past, I liked the Hepburn recipe and another recipe from Fine Cooking "Rich Fudgy Brownies" but the Medrich recipe is my favorite.

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A note to my above post re: Medrich Bittersweet brownies vs. Chewy Brownies--I compared the two while the Chewy were still warm and the Bittersweet were cool. I have tasted the Chewy brownies now that they are cool and the flavor is much better--very chocolate-y and the texture is wonderfully chewy. I will remember to compare when all components are same temp etc. I have guests coming later and will let them compare also.

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I like the Chewy Brownies even more after being chilled - they get fudgier, but are still chewy and not overly fudgy. They're still my favorite brownie so far, and although I posted previously that I liked the King Arthur's as much, after trying them both side by side many more times, I've revised my decision. The Fine Cooking Chewy ones are definitely more deep chocolatey and have a better, chewier texture.


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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To answer the ? above-- salt was sprinkled on before baking and it was a superfine salt. It was from my local natural food store and was pinkish and told it was organic and had lots of minerals in it --they don't get too specific there.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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I was planning to try the On The Fence Brownies this past weekend to bring to a barbecue. I had all of the ingredients, but since I don't bake very often, I wasn't sure if I could use plain old Nestle cocoa, which is what I had. The recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa. So I Googled it and found this explanation and figured that I better get the Dutch-processed cocoa.

The thing is that I went to 4 different supermarkets (including Whole Foods) and I couldn't find Dutch-processed cocoa; they only had natural unsweetened (Hershey's and Nestle although Whole Foods did have more brands available). Now this may be a stupid question, but is Dutch-processed cocoa hard to find for some reason? And if they don't have it in Whole Foods, where would I find it?

I ended up making the Baker's One Bowl brownies which were good, but I was looking forward to trying a new kind for comparison.

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I think with most brownie recipes, it doesn't matter, but Kerry's here, and she'll tell you what to do.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I made version 5 of my brownie experiments this weekend; getting closer to the holy grail ...

based on some ideas here i tried something new: i reduced the total sugar in the recipe by a tablespoon, and then sprinkled a tablespoon of superfine sugar over the top before baking.

it did in fact make the top more crisp and crackly, but the brownies themselves were not overly sweet.

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I think with most brownie recipes, it doesn't matter, but Kerry's here, and she'll tell you what to do.

I was tempted to just use the natural unsweetened figuring "how bad could they be?", but then I saw this on the Joy of Baking website:

"There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed and it is best to use the type specified in the recipe as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder."

I was too afraid that they wouldn't be good and I didn't have time to make another batch.

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I think with most brownie recipes, it doesn't matter, but Kerry's here, and she'll tell you what to do.

I was tempted to just use the natural unsweetened figuring "how bad could they be?", but then I saw this on the Joy of Baking website:

"There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed and it is best to use the type specified in the recipe as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder."

I was too afraid that they wouldn't be good and I didn't have time to make another batch.

Oh no! Don't take my advice! This recipe has baking powder in it, so changing the cocoa powder from Dutched to natural might cause a problem.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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I think with most brownie recipes, it doesn't matter, but Kerry's here, and she'll tell you what to do.

I was tempted to just use the natural unsweetened figuring "how bad could they be?", but then I saw this on the Joy of Baking website:

"There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed and it is best to use the type specified in the recipe as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder."

I was too afraid that they wouldn't be good and I didn't have time to make another batch.

Oh no! Don't take my advice! This recipe has baking powder in it, so changing the cocoa powder from Dutched to natural might cause a problem.

My understanding was that when the recipe calls for baking powder as the only leavener, you can use Dutch-process cocoa with no problems, because baking powder includes the acid which is needed to cause the reaction with the sodium bicarbonate that produces the CO2, and hence the leavening. On the other hand, using Dutched in a recipe in which baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is the only leavener could cause problems, because the the Dutched cocoa is not acidic enough to cause the CO2 forming reaction.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I was planning to try the On The Fence Brownies this past weekend to bring to a barbecue.  I had all of the ingredients, but since I don't bake very often, I wasn't sure if I could use plain old Nestle cocoa, which is what I had.  The recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa.  So I Googled it and found this explanation and figured that I better get the Dutch-processed cocoa.

The thing is that I went to 4 different supermarkets (including Whole Foods) and I couldn't find Dutch-processed cocoa; they only had natural unsweetened (Hershey's and Nestle although Whole Foods did have more brands available).  Now this may be a stupid question, but is Dutch-processed cocoa hard to find for some reason?  And if they don't have it in Whole Foods, where would I find it?

I ended up making the Baker's One Bowl brownies which were good, but I was looking forward to trying a new kind for comparison.

As you found out, Dutched cocoa is not available everywhere. Where I live, I can find it at the Williams Sonoma store and the World Market. Otherwise I have to order it online (Callebaut is very good and pretty cheap if you buy a kilo, cheap enough to justify paying for its shipping, IMHO). Some supermarkets are now carrying a Hershey's Special Dark cocoa that is a Dutched cocoa, but it is a little "overdutched" in the opinion of a lot of people. Hershey's first made a European Style Dutched cocoa (in a silver can) that I thought was great, but then they changed to the current Special Dark formulation. The Special Dark tastes very much like Oreo cookies, so if you like those, give it a shot. Having said that, I think the run-of-the-mill Hershey's cocoa is very good for the money -- I actually like it better than SB and Ghirardelli.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I do like Oreos! But the thing is that I didn't even see anything other than the regular natural Hershey's and Nestle's cocoa. And again, that was in 4 stores. Whole Foods had one or two additional choices, but not Dutch.

It's not really urgent that I make these brownies, but they sounded good. I have a Williams-Sonoma right by my office, so I can check there.

Oh wait, I just checked Penzeys website and sure enough, they have it. Next time I place an order with them, I'll order the cocoa.

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