Chewy Brownies

From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Chewy Brownies and Chocolate Cupcakes

Why this recipe works:

To devise a properly chewy brownie recipe, we first had to discover the perfect ratio of oil to butter. We then combated greasiness by replacing some of the oil with egg yolks, whose emulsifiers prevent fat from separating and leaking out during baking. We found that unsweetened chocolate… read more

To devise a properly chewy brownie recipe, we first had to discover the perfect ratio of oil to butter. We then combated greasiness by replacing some of the oil with egg yolks, whose emulsifiers prevent fat from separating and leaking out during baking. We found that unsweetened chocolate provides the strongest chocolate flavor. Finally, folding in bittersweet chocolate chunks just before baking gave our chewy brownies gooey pockets of melted chocolate and rounded out their complex flavor.

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Makes twenty-four 2-inch brownies

For the chewiest texture, it is important to let the brownies cool thoroughly before cutting. If your baking dish is glass, cool the brownies 10 minutes, then remove them promptly from the pan (otherwise, the superior heat retention of glass can lead to overbaking). While any high-quality chocolate can be used in this recipe, our preferred brands of bittersweet chocolate are Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate L-60-40NV and Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. Our preferred brand of unsweetened chocolate is Scharffen Berger. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Referring to directions in Making a Foil Sling (related), make sling using the following steps: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder (if using), and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

    3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.

    4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Technique

Looking for Chewy Texture? Don't Try This

In our efforts to create a brownie as chewy as the box-mix kind, we tried a range of unusual techniques and ingredients. None of the approaches below got us close to our goal.

MAKE A BISCUIT Online cooks swear this strange combo creates chew; we found that these ingredients are better left on the shelf.

ADD CARAMEL Other cooks say folding a caramel made from sugar and butter into the mix leads to chew. We didn't find it so.

BAKE ON A PIZZA STONE The heat trapped in a pizza stone purportedly melts the sugar in the brownies, contributing to chew. For us, it did nothing.

CHILL IN AN ICE BATH Does plunging a barely baked pan of brownies into an ice bath lead to chewiness? Not when we tried it.

Technique

The Secret to Chewy Brownies

The secret to a box-mix brownie's chewy texture boils down to one thing: fat—specifically the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat. By using both butter (a predominantly saturated fat) and unsaturated vegetable oil, we were able to approximate the same 1:3 ratio found in commercially engineered specimens to mimic their satisfying chew.

BOX FORMULA: 28% saturated fat, 72% unsaturated fat. Besides containing the optimal ratio of different fat types, box brownies make use of highly processed powdered shortening to achieve their chewy texture.

OUR FORMULA: 29% saturated fat, 71% unsaturated fat. Our brownies contain a low-tech combo of butter and vegetable oil that creates a similar chew—and imparts a far richer taste than shortening ever could.

CLASSIC FORMULA: 64% saturated fat, 36% unsaturated fat. The classic version of brownies is made with all butter (and no vegetable oil) for a high proportion of solid, saturated fat that leads to a tender texture, versus a chewy one.

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