Brownies are usually a quick and simple treat, but they can turn out inedible if they're not baked according to the instructions or if you make the wrong substitutions. As long as you know the differences among the various kinds of oils, you will be OK to swap one for another. Because baking is a science, it is essential to use the right ingredients and amounts, even if you're using a mix.
Choosing Vegetable Oils
Brownie mixes usually call for "vegetable oil." This is because vegetable oils are flavorless and often odorless and will not change the flavor of your brownies. Vegetable oils come from many different types of plants and nuts, including canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean and corn. Any of these are fine to use when the mix calls for vegetable oil. Even an oil blend, such as canola, grapeseed and olive, would be OK. All of these oils are relatively inexpensive and sold everywhere.
Oils and the Baking Process
Using different vegetable-based oils won't affect the final texture, but they can affect the flavor. Taste a few drops of an oil if you're unsure exactly how it tastes. If the taste is strong, and you don't feel it goes well with chocolate, use another oil.
Oils to Avoid
Avoid oils that have a strong flavor when you're making brownies. These include olive, sesame, peanut and nut oils. These types of oils should be used to flavor salads and stir-fries, not for baking. If you use a light olive oil, you might be able to get away with hiding the mild flavor with the chocolate in the brownie mix. Of course, taste it so you know how strong the taste is and whether or not you want to chance putting it into your brownies. Also keep in mind all peanut oils are different depending on whether they are refined or unrefined, so taste them before you use them.
Some alternative oils can be more expensive, but if cost is not an issue for you, try them in your baking and see how you like them. Coconut oil, for example, has little taste or smell. Another choice is grapeseed oil. This oil may have a slight aroma to it, but it should be fine to use in brownies.
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