the quintessential(sp?) brownie

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by breadster, Jul 27, 2001.

  1. breadster

    breadster

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    what makes the quintessential brownie? as in the very chocolately fudgy kind- i have seen recipes using white sugar, brown sugar,
    bittersweet choc. unsweetened choc. similar recipes that call for 1/2 to 1 c. flour - help- any opinions or favorite recipes out there?!
     
  2. anneke

    anneke

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    Boy do I have the recipe for you!!!!
    In fact, it's such a great recipe that my friends will move mountains to get to my place if they hear that I'm making those brownies. They are so rich an gooey, they are almost like fudge!

    I took this recipe from Donna Hay's book 'Entertaining'

    Double Chocolate Brownies
    -------------------------

    240 g (8 1/2 oz) butter
    240 g dark chocolate
    3 eggs
    1 1/2 c caster (superfine) sugar (I use less)
    1 1/2 c plain (all-purpose) flour
    1/2 cup self-rising flour *
    1 1/2 c roughly chopped white chocolate.

    (* For those wondering, one cup of self-rising flour can be prepared by blending 1 cup of all purpose flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp salt; use half for this recipe)

    Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.
    Place eggs and caster sugar in bowl and beat until light and thick.
    Fold this through the dark chocolate mixture, sifted flours and white chocolate.
    Pour into a greased and lined 23 cm (9") square cake tin .
    Bake at 180*C (350*F) for 30 minutes or until set.
    Allow to cool. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar or a good quality cocoa. Makes 24 squares.
    -----------------------------------------

    By the way, this recipe will not be divine unless you use really REALLY good quality dark and white chocolate. Otherwise, it's a waste...
    [​IMG]
     
  3. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Thanks Anneke, I printed out your recipe and will try it asap.

    I have a good recipe also. It goes like this, but I could be off a bit...I can't seem to wake-up.....

    1 c. butter
    1/4 c. h2o
    1 1/2 c. sugar

    Heat together to dissolve the sugar. Pour it into

    12 oz. semi sweet (chopped)

    stir and cool for a minute, then add

    3 eggs
    1/2 tsp. soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 c. flour
    12 (more) oz. of mini chocolate chips
    Nuts, optional

    bake in a 9" x 13" greased pan. I line it with foil to remove and cut easier.

    In answer to breadster my thoughts are white sugar and semi-sweet chocolate taste the best in chocolate brownies. Bittersweet is to dark for my clients tastes (but you can interchange or 50/50 it with semisweet in all recipes). There are good recipes using unsweetened but I prefer my recipe using semi, (as I recall theres one on the box of unsweetened chocolate, thats good).

    I read an article from Marthas' magazine question area where someone asked about brownies. They wanted to know why their brownies formed a light thin crust ontop. The response was: it's due to the large amount of sugar present in brownie recipes and that it is considered very desirable on a good brownie. I never knew that it was the sugar creating this, I thought that was interesting....


    The flour amount will vary depending on how big the recipe is...is it for a 9" square or a 9"x13" so you can't compare with-out posting the whole recipe? So long as the flour and soda are minimal for fudgie brownies it will be fine. I also think you must be careful not to over mix you flour, just incorporate and bake and don't over bake either. Sometimes you just have to work the recipe to know if it's good, 1/2 c. flour could be fine depending on the recipe.

    Brown sugar...only in blonde brownies not chocolate!

    P.S. I add peppermint extract in my brownies at christmas time. Frost them with ganche and cut them into petite fours and decorate...it's a big hit at my work.
     
  4. breadster

    breadster

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    thanks A and W. De---

    W. De- why so emphatic about the "no brown sugar with chocolate"? - i thought it might aid in the moistness/keeping factor
     
  5. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I don't have to book smarts to explain exactly what I know in my mind, I go on instincts and experience.....which tells me brown sugar isn't right with dark chocolate desserts (unless your playing that angle). I can't think of any chocolate recipes for brownies, chocolate cookies, chocolate cakes, molton cakes, puddings, chocolate pastry creams, etc...that used brown sugar with a mainly chocolate dessert. White sugar lets the chocolate shine through.

    Don't the brown sugars contain molasses still? It's totally for cookies like chocolate chip (which is blonde) or blonde brownies.

    Also you don't have to worry about shelf life with brownies. They do last in the cooler, on the shelf or in the freezer longer than alot of items but seriously, who ever has them around long enough to think about storage?
     
  6. anneke

    anneke

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    I may be repeating what was already said but the way I see it the difference between brown and white is this:

    Brown sugar has a depth of flavour that white sugar does not. This would be lost when using dark chocolate as W mentioned. It also might disrupt the acidity balance of the chocolate I would think (meaning the chocolate wouldn't taste as good to our palate).

    Brown sugar does not make a product moist but rather chewy. Brownie recipes are usually pretty soft, so again this would be applicable for cookies.

    W, I agree: I've never seen brown sugar and chocolate combined unless it it's a pale product that happens to contain chocolate chips or something...

    (sigh! I wish there was some chocolate in the house right now..!)

    [​IMG]
     
  7. momoreg

    momoreg

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    (That's a great smiley)
     
  8. thebighat

    thebighat

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    I've seen Devil's Food Cake recipes, like on the Domino sugar bag, that call for brown sugar. And brown sugar isn't just sugar that still has molasses. It's white sugar the processor puts molasses back into. Kind of a long way to go, but maybe they can control things better. I just read an article in one of my beekeeping magazines on sugar processing and it sounds way complicated.
     
  9. momoreg

    momoreg

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    TBH, are you a beekeeper?
     
  10. thebighat

    thebighat

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    Haven't been here in a couple of days. I thought I wanted to be a beekeeper, joined a beekeeping association, but just don't have the time and my yard and neighborhood are just too small and crowded. So, I'm an armchair beekeeper. Plus, I got stung this year and didn't enjoy it. Seems to be going around. The son of a woman at work was up on a ladder spraying a nest prior to working on the roof, got swarmed, fell, smashed his head on the dumpster under him and is just now, a week later, coming out of it. And my kids last night were up on a roof and got buzzed and one of them got stung 5 times.
    Back to brownies. Made some today that had brown sugar in them. Gave them a nice butterscotch flavor. I heated 20 oz of eggs with 24 oz of brown sugar and 24 oz of white sugar, then whipped till cool and thick. Folded in 14 oz of chocolate melted with 14 oz butter and then 24 oz cake flour. This was a recipe I copied out of a book in a bookstore. They got a little cakey around the edges, but had no texture in the middle. I baked two half sheet pans. I notice that some of the recipes posted here have either self rising flour or soda in them and I wonder if that's not missing in most brownie recipes. Seems like you might want something to give the batter a little lift. Most brownies have the sugar beaten into the melted butter and chocolate, then the eggs. If you are not whipping the eggs to a foam, where's the leavening? I get frustrated by brownies. I need to make them frequently and have been using Alice Mederich's New Classic Brownies lately. Also made blondies today, using Richard Sax's recipe, which has a little soda in it, and they came out great.

    [ August 04, 2001: Message edited by: thebighat ]
     
  11. breadster

    breadster

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    hi big hat-

    when using Alice Medrich's new classic brownies- do you use her "steve ritual"

    also wondering if you tried her bittersweet brownie which claims to be more chocolatey
    tho' with only 1/4 c. flour.....i wonder
     
  12. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Thebighat I have several really good brownie and blonde recipes if they'd be of help to you I'd gladly post them? My reg. brownies take seconds to assemble can be sized up or down and get pretty good reviews from my clients.....(it's the one mentioned above)

    You should check out Debbie Fields books. She has a couple cookie bars that are really GREAT! She's not just a pretty face I have alot of respect for her baking, I've come across many good recipes from her!
     
  13. katherine

    katherine

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    For thebighat:

    You need a new recipe.

    I've never seen a brownie recipe quite like yours. Most fudgey-type brownie recipes call for melting together the butter and chocolate (it should be barely warm, not hot), then adding sugar and eggs, flour, and add-ins. The cakey method would be to cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time, then chocolate, and other ingredients.

    I've never seen a recipe that calls for cake flour. Because the amount of flour in a brownie recipe is so low, I think it is better to use a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour. Also, most recipes don't call for leavening. Remember, brownies are supposed to be dense, not like a cake. Even the "fudge cake" ones are supposed to be dense. They just puff a little in the oven from the eggs and moisture. If you put too much leavening in them, you'll end up with something not very brownie-like.

    Also, there is no reason to heat the eggs at the beginning, and it might cause problems if they got cooked in the process.

    Try another recipe, and do a smaller quantity until you find one you like. There are recipes posted in the "when recipes bomb" thread (including my own favorite). I like brownies very chocolatey but not deadly sweet, so I use 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and often reduce the sugar by 1/4.
     
  14. thebighat

    thebighat

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    I'd be very happy to get recipes from you, W. deBord. Katherine- the reason one would heat the eggs, a pretty standard procedure, is to allow the proteins to really get long and elastic when you whip them. Denaturing I think is the term. And yes, I do follow the Steve ritual. The brownies go right from the oven to be placed on a sheet pan in a very cold upright freezer. I have the Malgieri book and will try that one.
    I knew there was something else....W. deBord...about that strawberry pie. I tried your recipe with the puree, pectin and cornstarch, and it oozed everywhere. Tasted great, looked good when I left it. Had to make another one today for the general manager with cream cheese on the bottom. I thought the Perfect Puree was a little thick so I used half water, half puree, boiled it with a cup of sugar, tb of surejell, and then added the three tb of cornstarch in 1/4 cup h20. Put it in the refig. till it got thick. Still it didn't seem like it wouldn't ooze, so I tried a couple of gelatin leafs in it. Again, looked beautiful going out the door, but unless he refrigerates it for several hours, I gonna hear on Tuesday, "You know, Baker, your pies **** ." And it wouldn't be the first time. I'm looking for a soft gel consistency, that cuts clean and holds together in a slice. BTW,I'm pretty sure I wasn't using any special low sugar pectin and that probably makes a huge difference doesn't it? Thanks.

    [ August 05, 2001: Message edited by: thebighat ]
     
  15. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Huh, the s.b. pie recipe I posted is from Cook's magazine (that everyone loves so dearly?)like the only recipe from them I use....it oozed everywhere? I didn't experience that, not sure I comprehend what happened to you. It turns out like a soft gel consistancy, you cool it and toss your berries with it to coat. I never picked up a slice to see how well it served, I just slice and they serve.......sorry!

    I never made it with-out the exact sure gel so maybe that does effect it, the recipe is clearly labeled you must use the low sugar pectin, so?????? I'd guess that was the problem.

    Truthfully fruit pies can be a bitc*! Everyone thinks there so simple, but their harder to hit just right than any pastry I can think of. The fruits texture, sweetness and moisture are such varibles....uurh! I'm never thrilled to see them on the menu......making a couple at home is fine, but making twenty at work with old dry apples ruins my day.

    Hey, I've never heard of Steve's ritual...you put your hot brownies in a freezer right away? HUH? I'm not getting that....please explain?
     
  16. thebighat

    thebighat

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    The person I'm always the most scared of in the bake shop is someone who says, "Hey, I have a great idea." And even though I work alone, that person sometimes turns out to be me. I stood there staring at the instructions in the surejell and it says, don't change the amounts or a loose gel may result. So, duuuh. I went right ahead anyway. I know there's some strawberry coulis left, so I'll pick up some low sugar pectin and try again. In general I find those little instruction leaflets to be obtuse and confusing. I just love the look of that pie and want to ace it. I have been using a lot of Rose Levy's pie recipes. I like the way she macerates the fruit and then reduces the juices. That really seems to work well.
    The Steve ritual involves putting the pan of brownies in the freezer to stop the cooking immediately. One of my problems with brownies is that I usually make them at noontime to cut and platter them by 2 pm. Not real organized sometimes. Fine Cooking had an article on brownies a while ago and had a brownie cookie that is always a big hit.
     
  17. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I have to keep brownies on hand always so I always have them in the freezer. The other day I made some mint ones to use on a mini pastry tray and I had to use them a couple hours fresh. They were hard to handle even though they were cool. They didn't cut cleanly and they tended to mash down a bit, the texture was too soft and I put them on my mental list of not doing them so fresh again.

    Here's my recipe:

    2/3 c. butter
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    4 tbsp. h2o

    Melt together to disolve sugar. Then pour into:

    12 oz. ground semi sweet

    to melt. Then I add the rest of the ingred. while it's still pretty hot and never had a problem.

    2 tsp. vanilla
    4 eggs
    1/2 tsp. soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 1/2c. ap. flour
    12 oz. mini chocolate chips
    1 c. nuts (opt.)

    Bake in a foil lined and greased 9x13" pan in a 350 oven (technically the recipe calls for 325 but I do it on 350). The second addition of chocolate does melt quite abit since the batter is warm, that's fine...no problem just makes them richer. Do this x3 for a full sheet pan.

    It won't test done until you've killed it because the extra chips melted don't break down totally. Originally the recipe called for reg. chocolate chips but they stayed whole so it's a chocolate chip brownie. I accidentaly used mini's one day into the warm batter and got a better brownie. I watch it rise, then wait until it comes back down, then give it a couple minutes and pull it. Kind of standard baking process.
     
  18. thebighat

    thebighat

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    Thanks. I'll try these tomorrow. And, I noticed that there is baking soda in this recipe. I'm convinced brownies need a little leavening or they bake to a paste.
     
  19. w.debord

    w.debord

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    As far as brownie cookies I have a couple good ones but they don't work on my cookie tray because of the heat outside at the golf outtings they all mash together.

    Here's three excellent brownie recipes from Debbie Fields, a realitively unrecognized baking goddess in the cookbook industry.

    Peanut Butter Mississippi bars:

    8 tbsp. butter
    1/2 c. lt brown sugar
    1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
    1 egg
    1 tbsp. vanilla
    1 c. ap. flour
    1/2 tsp. soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    8 oz. white chocolate chopped
    8 oz. semi sweet chopped
    1 c. nuts toasted coursely chopped.

    325 oven in a buttered and foiled 9" square. She sets aside 1/2 of each chocolate and after baking melts them ontop of the warm brownie. I accidentally added them all to the batter and the people at work really like them loaded with all the choc. inside.

    Toffee Blondies:

    12 tbsp. butter
    2 1/4c. lt brown sugar
    3 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 2/3c. flour
    1 tsp. soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    12 oz. semi sweet chunks

    350 oven in a 9x13 foiled and buttered pan. Mix together as usually but DO NOT WHIP butter and sugar, it's just a combining processes like a quick bread. Then she adds a topping when their done baking:

    1 1/2tbsp. butter
    1/4 c. milk
    1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. xxx sugar
    1/3 c. lt brown sugar
    3/4 c. toffee pieces (from the baking isle like heath bits)

    Melt everything together with-out the toffee and let simmer for 5 min. until it thickens a bit. Poke wholes in you blondes with screwers and pour carmel topping over blondes then sprinkle on toffee.


    Chocolate Carmel Oat Brownies:

    1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
    1 1/2 c. ap flour
    1 1/2 c. Dark brown sugar
    1/2 tsp. soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    12 tbsp. butter

    350 in a 9x13" foil lined and butter pan. In processor pulse all dry ingred. , cut in butter to peas size. Hold back 2 c. crumbs (for topping) press the rest in pan. Sprinkle bottom with:

    12 0z. semi sweet chips
    2 c. toasted chopped pecans

    In a heavy pan heat 1/2 c. heavy cream with 14 oz. kraft carmels. when melted pour over chips in pan. Sprinkle on remain crumbs and lightly press down before baking.

    I promise all three are really excellent!

    Anyone else have any excellent recipes to share on this topic, I'd love to hear from you......
     
  20. thebighat

    thebighat

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    Made the pie today,using the low sugar pectin and it made all the difference in the world. It gelled, and when stroked with a finger, left a trench. So I sliced the pie myself, which I don't normally have to do as our crack waitstaff is fully capable of butchering it. Made the brownies too, and made the steve ritual brownies with 1/2 tsp of b.soda to a triple batch. Not sure if I like what happened, but the other brownies I liked very much.