Very fudgy chocolate brownies

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I have been baking brownies for years and always come back to a fudgy style brownie.  It’s this contrast of soft centre against the crunchy crust that makes a brownie in my view, without this all others are some form of cake.  Not baking the brownie all the way through matters in order to have that fudge-like goo centre and the other crucial thing is the crisp crust.  The crispness of the crust comes down to sugar.

I prefer this type of recipe that uses only slabs of good chocolate to the recipes that add cocoa powder because the cocoa powder has a tendency to make the centre less melt-in-the-mouth-ganache-like.

The week I was putting together this recipe I made 9 batches of brownies each time changing something in order to find out what goes wrong with a brownie.  I made them using; shallow rectangle tin, deep rectangle tin, square tin, plain flour, self-raising flour, white sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar and different types of chocolate.  And since those 9 batches I have carried on making brownies and kept mental notes of any changes I made, including making a dairy-free version of this recipe.

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The brownie above is still warm which is why the centre is particularly wet.

Things I’ve discovered in the process of making so many brownies are:

1 – brownies can be made in different size tins, rectangle or square, but the first batch will be a trial experiment for your oven, as ovens can vary so much.  For example if using a shallow tin they will bake very quickly.

2 – 23cm / 9inch square tin will produce deeper brownies, an obvious thing to say but the point of deeper brownies is more of the brownie mixture is going to be fudgey chocolate, more so than you get in shallower rectangle tin.

3 – does not matter how many different ways they are bake and which size tins used they will still have a drier edge on the outside by the time the middle is ready.

4 – brownies are defined by not having raising agents like baking powder and therefore producing a solid more stogy texture to normal cakes but experimenting with self-raising flour or adding baking powder I discovered it did not ruin the brownie.  It produced a slightly more ‘cake-like’ texture softer and a bit more spongier on the drier parts of the brownie, which isn’t necessarily what you want in a brownie, but it was passable.

5 – 70% cocoa solid chocolate produces intense chocolate flavour but I was surprise how good the brownies made with 50-55% cocoa solids are.

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6 – don’t over mix, it is not a precious batter but it does not need a lot of air whisked into the batter as normal cakes do.

7  - the best tool to have for checking if your brownie is good is a cocktail stick.  If the stick comes out cleanish (cake crumbs attached is fine) up to about 5cm from edge of tin, and the middle of the brownie is still wet the brownie is ready, it will carry on cooking once out.  If making with dairy-free butter/margarine, the brownie needs to be baked for longer than that as dairy-free butter doesn’t solidify once at room temperature like normal butter does.

8 – it really matters what kind of chocolate goes in because that will produce the end flavour.  Use chocolate that has cocoa butter in the list of ingredients and do not use one that uses other types of fat.

9 – the more sugar the better the crust, if you reduce the sugar the crust will be less crisp.

10 – granulated sugar makes a far better crust than caster (superfine) sugar.  The batter should not be whisked so much it dissolves the sugar otherwise the crispness of the crust will suffer.

11 –  using brown sugar results in a fudgier middle, a more pronounced crust and bakes tiny bit quicker, and if eating while warm it has a fluffy texture – absolutely gorgeous with ice-cream.

12 – the crispiness of the crust will only last within hours of baking, the next day it will soften.  Best way to keep brownies for few days is to wrap them in foil.

13 – If you undercook your brownies and the middle is still too raw and far too soft to cut, best enjoyed by wrapping in foil putting back in a low oven for a few minutes until warm, grab the ice-cream, turn off phone, put good film on – life rarely gets better than that.  Yes you can put it back and bake it for longer, the mixture is fine to eat raw therefore no problem re-baking flour, sugar and eggs further.

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Add the melt the chocolate with the butter and mix it with the eggs and sugar and vanilla.  Mix in the flour and pour it into tin.

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When the brownie is close to being baked all the way around the edge of the brownie about 2″ (5 cm) from the edge should be done, if the cocktail stick comes out clean rather than wet chocolate  (cake crumbs is ok)…

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…and if in the middle the cocktail sticks should come out wet, at this point the brownie is done.  Remove it from the oven.

For dairy-free versions the middle should be slightly drier than butter versions.

This was one of the batches baked in a larger rectangle tin which means it will produce a less gooey centre than deep tins.

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Chocolate fudge brownies

  • 300g   chocolate, good chocolate 70% cocoa solids, if you hate dark choc use 50% cocoa solids
  • 300g / 2 1/2 sticks butter (if using unsalted butter add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, important to balance sweetness)
  • 375g  / 1  3/4 cups granulated  or packed light muscovado (brown) sugar
  • 5  medium eggs
  • 15 ml  / 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (not vanilla essence)
  • 200g  /   1/3 cups  plain all purpose flour

Note: if you like your brownie on the sweeter side add another 50g (1/4 cup )

Pre-heat the oven to, 170˚C fan / 190˚C / 375˚F / gas 5
23×23 cm / 9×9 inch square tin or rectangle tin 34×25 cm / 13×10 inch tin, lined with baking paper

1 – Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over pan of simmering water until melted, let steam escape now and again.

2 – In a large bowl mix the eggs with the sugar and vanilla and whisk with an electric whisk for 1 minute until mixture well amalgamated.

3 – Add firstly one tablespoon of chocolate to the egg mixture and whisk in well, followed by a second tablespoon, after this you can pour the remainder of the chocolate in, if you don’t brings eggs and chocolate to same temperate to start with your mixture may seize up.

4 – Add the flour and whisk in for few seconds or fold it in until the mixture is well combined.  Pour into the prepare tin and bake.

5 -For the 23x23cm / 9×9 inch square tin bake between 30-40 mins.   For the 34×25 cm / 13×10 inch rectangle tin bake between 20-25 mins.