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Brownies -- Bake-Off I


Kerry Beal
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Can someone tell me if the On-the-Fence brownies are chewy? I love chewy, don't think cake-y brownies are worth eating.

Also, I guess cutting back on the amount of sugar would affect moistness but what about texture? I've tried the Chewy brownies recipe twice now, but because I couldn't get to the shops to get unsweetened chocolate, had to use semi-sweet. I also increased the cocoa by 3 tablespoons. I cut the sugar by half but increased the butter to 5oz... ok :blink: I know by now the recipe has morphed into something else completely, but just wanted help troubleshooting.

What I produced was slightly dense, a tad dry (even with decreased baking time) but not really chewy. I guess I could try baking the Chewy recipe as written and then go from there, but all brownie recipes are too achingly sweet for the family.

So, am in search of a less sweet, intensely chocolatey and dense, chewy brownie... anyone have a recipe for one?

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Did you try them chilled or frozen? They get chewier/fudgier.

Why don't you make them again with the original recipe ingredients and measurements? You should have a moister result, plus a deeper, more intense chocolate taste from the unsweetened chocolate. I bake these for less time than the recipe indicates, about 32 minutes in a metal pan, and they're not dry at all.

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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Made brownies today.. When I have to make a big batch, I always use Nigella Lawson's recipe from How to be a domestic goddess, because the amounts are just right for my very big pan. I use the basic recipe and add whatever I feel like.. sometimes dried cranberries or cherries, various nuts.. this time I added almonds and chopped white chocolate. They came out great!

gallery_21505_4018_67141.jpg

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Chufi

Yum!

After looking at this thread I made brownies yesterday, too. They came out looking fine but were too dry and not chocolaty enough to my taste. Seems I don't have luck with baking recipes over here, even when I use European recipes (as I did for these brownies). I wonder if sugar here being derived from beets vs. sugar cane is the reason :hmmm:.

gallery_34224_2175_79536.jpg

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Alinka, I have had the same problem when I moved to Colorado ( high altitude dry ) from Italy ( humid sea level) and different ingredients like butter and sugar.I had lots of problem to figured out how to fix some recipes and obtain a good results.Maybe you should try tweaking your recipes in small batches and see .What kind of climate is Moscow?

Vanessa

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Can someone tell me if the On-the-Fence brownies are chewy?  I love chewy, don't think cake-y brownies are worth eating.

Also, I guess cutting back on the amount of sugar would affect moistness but what about texture?  I've tried the Chewy brownies recipe twice now, but because I couldn't get to the shops to get unsweetened chocolate, had to use semi-sweet.  I also increased the cocoa by 3 tablespoons.  I cut the sugar by half but increased the butter to 5oz... ok  :blink: I know by now the recipe has morphed into something else completely, but just wanted help troubleshooting. 

What I produced was slightly dense, a tad dry (even with decreased baking time) but not really chewy.  I guess I could try baking the Chewy recipe as written and then go from there, but all brownie recipes are too achingly sweet for the family.

So, am in search of a less sweet, intensely chocolatey and dense, chewy brownie... anyone have a recipe for one?

Yes, I would call the OTF brownies chewy. Based on your "less sweet, intensely chocolately, chewy" description I think we have similar tastes, so you should be very happy with the OTF brownies. They're one of my favorites.

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Can someone tell me if the On-the-Fence brownies are chewy?  I love chewy, don't think cake-y brownies are worth eating.

Also, I guess cutting back on the amount of sugar would affect moistness but what about texture?  I've tried the Chewy brownies recipe twice now, but because I couldn't get to the shops to get unsweetened chocolate, had to use semi-sweet.  I also increased the cocoa by 3 tablespoons.  I cut the sugar by half but increased the butter to 5oz... ok  :blink: I know by now the recipe has morphed into something else completely, but just wanted help troubleshooting. 

What I produced was slightly dense, a tad dry (even with decreased baking time) but not really chewy.  I guess I could try baking the Chewy recipe as written and then go from there, but all brownie recipes are too achingly sweet for the family.

So, am in search of a less sweet, intensely chocolatey and dense, chewy brownie... anyone have a recipe for one?

Yes, I would call the OTF brownies chewy. Based on your "less sweet, intensely chocolately, chewy" description I think we have similar tastes, so you should be very happy with the OTF brownies. They're one of my favorites.

I agree! I've made them 3 times lately. I'm not a fan of cakey at all, these are just right.

Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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Alinka, I have  had the same problem when I moved to Colorado ( high altitude dry ) from Italy ( humid sea level) and different ingredients like butter and sugar.I had lots of problem to figured out how to fix some recipes and obtain a good results.Maybe you should try tweaking your recipes in small batches and see .What kind of climate is Moscow?

Thanks for responding! Moscow's climate is fairly dry (especially compared to Houston). But there are plenty of dry climate places in the States, too, but recipes seem to work nevertheless. U.S. coffee cake recipes seem to work ok but I always have problems with cookies. They come out strange, kind of sticky or something so I suspect the sugar is the problem, and also maybe flour... Butter looks and tastes the same here; I usually buy the 82% kind.

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Thanks merstar, CanadianBakin' and jende for answering my questions. Shall try the Chewy recipe as written, since I've finally managed to get some unsweetened chocolate today. And if I have time I'll try the OTF ones too.

Any votes for Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies from her latest book Baking from my home to yours? I did them a few days ago and so far they've come closest to the texture I'd like, but for my taste (and I recognise this is utterly personal) could do with slightly less sugar and with a little more chewiness (after a couple days in the fridge). So am also going to try to tweak that.

For the record I also did the Supernatural Brownies yesterday (ummm so that's 5 batches in 4 days) but didn't like the flavour from the dark brown sugar. Texture on second day not bad but still not quite there for me.

Ok the doctor has banned eggs for 2 weeks but I'm thinking 2 eggs spread among 16 brownies of which I'm only tasting 1, hardly counts as eating eggs does it...?? :biggrin: I wouldn't want to get off (err or is that on?) the brownie wagon, I'm on a roll!

Edited by LittleIsland (log)
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Anybody up for trying Allergy-free brownies?

It has no eggs, no gluten, no nuts, and no dairy.

I'm really tempted, but I don't have a lot of the ingredients.

I have made the switch to brownies with whipped egg whites. I'm going to try and tweak Medrich's Cocoa Brownies for whipped egg whites as well.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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Thanks merstar, CanadianBakin' and jende for answering my questions.  Shall try the Chewy recipe as written, since I've finally managed to get some unsweetened chocolate today.  And if I have time I'll try the OTF ones too. 

You're very welcome. Let us know how they turn out!

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I tried the King Arthur "On The Fence Brownies," and they were excellent, but ONLY after chilling overnight. When I tasted them right after baking and cooling, they were really bland. I chilled them overnight, and it was if they were totally different brownies - they were completely transformed. These brownies really need to bloom overnight to bring out the chocolate flavor, whereas certain other brownies, such as the Fine Cooking Chewy ones, are deep chocolatey right out of the oven - although in general, I prefer all brownies chilled.

I tried these side by side with the FC Chewy ones and like them both pretty equally. The only thing the OTF ones are lacking is that nice, crusty top that the FC ones have, but they're delicious, regardless.

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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Awwwright. So I didn't get around to trying the OTF and Chewy Brownies recipes because I got sidetracked by :

1. Double Fudge Bourbon Brownies (on recipegullet) - didn't really like the flavour and a tad dry

2. Another chewy, cakey brownie recipe I found online (I think someone said it was Pam Anderson's, I can't find the link now but will post when I do, in case anyone's interested) - not bad but still not quite there

Then I did Kerry Beal's brownies which indeed tasted (and felt) like World Peace cookies masquerading as brownies (or the other way around :biggrin: ) but not in fact my ideal brownie. And then I tweaked Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies recipe from "Baking" but I messed it up - so, another 4 batches of brownies distributed.

After a few days of Brownie OD, today I tried the Double Fudge Brownies from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking - and the family loves them, as do I! (this even before being chilled or rested in the fridge for any length of time) They are really nice and chewy while being at the same time fudgy.

The only thing I really regret about this is my deplorable camera skills.

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If anyone's interested in trying it out for comparison purposes, let me know and I'll look into how to post the recipe without violating copyright. I really like the flavour and texture of these (I think the whole wheat definitely gives it terrific body while not being in the least cakey) but can't comment against the OTF and others talked about here.

Edited by LittleIsland (log)
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I just ate one of my caramel brownies--I love them! I made caramels last night using Kerry Beal's recipe, and melted about 200g of those with 1/4 cup 35% cream. Then I layered that between two layers of the FC Chewy Brownies (the first layer was baked for about 10 minutes, then after adding the caramel layer and top layer, I baked for another 25 minutes). The resulting brownies are doubly chewy, and doubly rich. I think I should try using some other caramel recipe if I make caramel brownies again--one with less butter.

I was a little worried about getting them out of the pan, but my new silicone-coated parchment paper worked like a charm!

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I just ate one of my caramel brownies--I love them!  I made caramels last night using Kerry Beal's recipe, and melted about 200g of those with 1/4 cup 35% cream. Then I layered that between two layers of the FC Chewy Brownies (the first layer was baked for about 10 minutes, then after adding the caramel layer and top layer, I baked for another 25 minutes). The resulting brownies are doubly chewy, and doubly rich. I think I should try using some other caramel recipe if I make caramel brownies again--one with less butter.

Prasantrin, that caramel brownie variation is exactly what I want to try once I nail the base brownie recipe :raz: (Been looking at the version in allrecipes which uses boxed cake mix to rave reviews) What I want to know is, was the bottom layer a little drier? Would you perhaps rather freeze the bottom layer for a while to harden it, then spread the caramel layer and top brownie layer on, then bake the whole thing? Can you let me know when you've found the ideal caramel recipe for it?

Also, if I were going to make the caramel from scratch just for this, would I simply add the additional cream right off the bat instead of cooking to the right temp. and then melting down with additional cream? I fear if I did this variation I'd only be able to eat a couple of pieces and have to give away the rest for the sake of the waistline.

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I ate another one for breakfast (more like a breakfast appetizer), so they've had a full night to develop.

The bottom layer isn't overcooked at all. It might be a little drier than the top layer, but it's hard to tell because the whole thing is very moist and chewy. I would have liked to have let the caramel layer harden a bit before putting on the top brownie layer. It was difficult trying to get full coverage with the top brownie layer, but I didn't want to put it in the fridge, because I didn't want any condensation to happen.

Oh, I used a 9x9 pan. Were I to make these again, I would use an 8x8 pan (but I couldn't find mine when I was ready to bake). It would make the brownie layers thicker, and less prone to overbaking.

Freezing is certainly an option. With a cold bottom, the caramel would harden a bit once it was poured on, making it easier (in theory) to do the top layer. Do you think freezing might have an effect on the final product, though?

I had thought of making caramel just for this recipe, but it just wasn't logistically possible for me. Plus with rainy season coming up, we're at the tail-end of caramel making season in Japan, so I wanted to make caramels before it got too humid. One can never have too many caramels!

A couple of other comments about the brownies--they're too sweet for me. I'm not really a sweets person, I usually prefer salty things, so I think I'll have to cut these into even smaller squares than I already have (I cut about 30 pieces from the 9x9), and use less sugar next time. Also, the quality of the unsweetened chocolate is crucial. I have limited choices of unsweetened chocolate (none, actually), so I used Baker's. Not a good choice...especially considering I had wanted to make salted caramel brownies. I sprinkled a bit of sea salt on one brownie, and the salt only brought out the flaws of the Baker's, and there are many.

I'll have to figure out how I can sub bittersweet in for the unsweetened, anyone want to help me?

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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: )

I wish I took a picture of them but I forgot. I made over a hundred of these as part of my donation to a charity last week.

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quadrup...colate-brownies

Edited by Ling (log)
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Ling , thank you for the link .I am on a brownies baking spree at least every weekend , I try something new or try some new combination.

I just put in the oven a double chocolate mint brownies , something I thought on my way from work .

These were the maple pecan brownies I made last week.

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Edited by Desiderio (log)

Vanessa

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A couple of other comments about the brownies--they're too sweet for me.  I'm not really a sweets person, I usually prefer salty things, so I think I'll have to cut these into even smaller squares than I already have (I cut about 30 pieces from the 9x9), and use less sugar next time.

I agree with you on this - they sound fabulous but without even tasting one, my teeth are already aching! My thought on this was to make a less sweet brownie (than one you'd eat on it's own) so perhaps for the KA recipe I might sub some unsweetened chocolate for the semi-sweet.

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Prasantrin, why don't you go ahead and try the caramel brownies if the regular ones are  too sweet? They are easier to eat than the chocolate ones.

Do you mean try making plain brownies without the caramel? I made the caramel brownies, and the brownies themselves are very sweet, so coupled with the sweetness of the caramel, it makes my caramel brownies very very very sweet. I've never been a fan of sweet things, but after living in Japan for so long, I find that I'm even more sensitive to sweetness.

I think if I cut down on the sugar of the brownies (it's a good recipe texture-wise), and tried to make a less-sweet caramel, it would be better.

Or did you mean to make blondies rather than brownies?

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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.

I use less sugar than some recipes suggest (but you can't reduce it past 50% without losing the texture and shine), and make them about once every 5 years! I think I mixed chunks of them into icecream last time.

Some of the photos in this thread give me a headache looking at them, so I wish I could figure out how to get that pretty crackled shiny top without the overbearing sweetness.

There must be a gene which enables certain populations to eat brownies! :raz:

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??

Edited by helenjp (log)
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