Most people would agree that brownies are delicious, but that's where the agreement ends. Brownies break people into clear camps of preference. You may crave a tender, cakey brownie with a light crumb or prefer a dense, chewy variety that tastes deeply of chocolate. While all brownies contain similar ingredients, the ratio of these ingredients and the method of baking determines how your brownie turns out.
Don't confuse chewy brownies with the fudgelike variety, which are gooey and soft, almost like -- well -- fudge. Chewy brownies have density and are held together by flour, usually the all-purpose variety, which provides enough protein content to create the desired texture. Eggs are another key ingredient in chewy brownies. Use whole ones that make the batter set when it encounters the heat of the oven. Use melted butter in the batter to encourage more chew.
Cakey brownies have a texture that resembles a dense devil's-food cake, rather than fudge. The crumb is tender and rich. "Fine Cooking" magazine recommends using less butter and adding a small amount of milk to create a cakelike texture. You may also sub a small amount of corn syrup for some of the sugar to add moistness. The addition of baking powder leavens a cakey brownie so it rises to a lighter texture than chewy varieties. When mixing the batter for cakey brownies, use cake-making techniques, such as creaming the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs until the batter is blended. After you've created this base, you add the chocolate and dry ingredients.
Into the Oven
Cook a chewy brownie batter too long, and it comes out crunchy and dry. Overcooked cake brownies come out tough, rather than tender. "Fine Cooking" recommends peeking in on your brownies a few minutes before the recipe says they will be done to make sure they don't overcook. Whether you are cooking a cakey or chewy batch, know that using a metal pan will make your brownies cook faster than a glass pan.
Experiment to Find Your Favorite
Recipes for cakey and chewy brownies differ from cook to cook. For example, although chewy recipes tend to have more flour and no leavening, it doesn't mean all chewy brownie recipes have these features. Ultimately, you'll have to test multiple recipes to find the one that meets your preferences. Tasting all those brownies is a tough job, but someone has to do it.
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