Brownies are the little black dress of the dessert world. A good brownie is a staple in any baker’s kitchen. It’s also the best thing to make when you don’t know what you want to make. Brownies even have an amazing history. The fact that you don’t have to put a bunch of thought and effort into them is one more, dare I say, brownie point to add to their list of awesome.
You know what I mean. You want to get something made, but you’re not exactly craving anything in particular. You don’t have all the time in the world to find a recipe, your list of “to try” recipes is long, but you need to get something going ASAP and you can’t waste time comparing recipes versus the ingredients in your pantry. That’s when I think, “Brownies.”
Beginning bakers should jump on board here. You can learn how to make brownies in no time (it’s EASY). I don’t get how brownie mixes (or any mixes) became a “thing.” It’s a simple process with minimal hands-on time. I’ve never seen anyone turn down a brownie (obviously I’m talking about people without allergies to the contents). Laurie Colwin agreed:
There are few citizens of this land who do not like a brownie. Even people on diets will nibble a small one if it is offered. Brownie’s are in many ways the ideal dessert. You can eat as many or as few as you wish. And brownies go well with so many things—ice cream, strawberries, poached pears, or whipped cream, for instance.Laurie Colwin, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen (1995 Edition), Page 74-75.
Cookbooks Used in this Article:
- Cookbooks Used in this Article:
- The Awesome Power of Brownies
- Bake A Cakey Brownie
- My Favorite Cakey Brownies Ever, Ever, Ever
- Cakey Brownie with Frosting
- Fudgy Brownie Recipe Made Using Oil
- Fast Homemade Fudgy Brownies with Oil
- Fudgy Brownies with Oil
- Fancy Fudgy Brownies (with Butter and Two Kinds of Chocolate)
- Fudgy Brownie Recipe Using Butter
- Brownies Done Right
- Related Resources:
The Awesome Power of Brownies
I could go on about how wonderfully easy it is to bake up a pan of homemade brownies…and I’m going to. Look, they take few ingredients, are fast to fix, and have a short baking time. Brownies are an easy look-to-your-pantry kind of snack or dessert. Add to that list of pros the portability of a brownie and its ability to withstand shipping. It’s no wonder you have yourself the makings of a classic—and a baked good you need to have in your recipe repertoire.
You don’t have a “must make these all the time” kind of brownie recipe? It’s okay. I do. I’m even willing to share.
I have three recipes for amazing different types of brownies here for you so you can whip up a batch of brownies, fast, the next time you need to bring something to a pitch-in or to make friends with the new neighbors.
One brownie recipe is fudgy and made with butter, one is fudgy and uses vegetable oil in place of the butter (and two kinds of chocolate), while one is cakey, and one doesn’t include eggs. Hold the phone. That’s four recipes. You said you’d share three. Oh, yeah. I did do that.
I love eggs (from my head down to my legs), but if you want a great brownie without the eggs, I know from experience that omitting the eggs from the fudgy brownie recipe results in one (still) delicious brownie. That was a total accident. I DID NOT intend to make an eggless brownie. I INTENDED to follow the recipe and, uh, include all of the ingredients.
But, my brain went “Poof!” for a moment. The pan was in the oven before I realized what I did. You know, that moment you see the eggs you were supposed to add to the batter sitting on the counter in front of you.
Still, take heart from this. If you haven’t been baking for long, know that pro or novice, mistakes still happen. In this case, it was total luck. The brownies were still fudgy, minus the eggs. Good to know in case I’m ever out of eggs (I don’t know how as I buy a ridiculous amount each time). But there you go.
Bake A Cakey Brownie
Everyone has a favorite brownie type. My husband says he prefers fudgy brownies, but he sure plowed through the cakey brownies I made. He finally admitted to being a fan. Not that he had to say anything. The brownie crumbs he left in his wake were pretty telling.
There are plenty of reasons why brownies are either cakey or fudgy and you can learn all about the differences by following that link. Need the Cliff Notes version? The Kitchn had this to say about cakey brownies, they “…have a lighter, airier texture due to a lower amount of fat, more flour, and the addition of baking powder for leavening.”
Like Bon Appetit says, “If you’re into cakey brownies, go for a recipe that is reminiscent of, well, cake: For example, if your instructions include the act of creaming together butter and sugar, says senior associate food editor Alison Roman, you’re probably going to be making a cake-like brownie. Which is great, if you’re into that. If you prefer fudgy brownies, says associate food editor Claire Saffitz, look for a recipe that has a higher chocolate and butter-to-dry ingredient ratio.”
Bottom-line: A fudgy brownie has less flour and more fat. A cakey brownie has more flour and baking powder. Makes sense. Baking powder is a leavener and will help the brownies rise.
My Favorite Cakey Brownies Ever, Ever, Ever
But these brownies…these are my favorite. I have zero problem passing by a pan of fudgy brownies. But these? I’ll eat one for breakfast and not think twice about it. Then, I’ll maybe even have one later in the day with a cup of decaf because OMG they were made to accompany a cup of coffee. Ha. One. Who am I kidding?
Cakey Brownie with Frosting
- 13 x 9 pan
For the Brownies:
- 1 Cup PLUS 3 Tablespoons Butter, Cubed
- 3/4 Cup Baking Cocoa
- 4 Large Eggs
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 Cups Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
For the Frosting:
- 6 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
- 2 2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Baking Cocoa
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 to 1/3 Cup Milk to achieve desired consistency.
- 1 pinch Salt optional (I always add a pinch of salt to frosting)
To Make the Brownies:
- 350* oven. Grease a 13 x 9 pan (Pam for Baking with Flour or Baker's Joy work well).
- Melt butter and stir in cocoa. Let cool while you proceed with the recipe.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Slowly add to the creamed mixture.
- Stir in the chocolate mixture and mix until only a few streaks of flour remain. Go slowly, combing the streaks in, and then stop! You don't want to overmix your brownie batter.
- Spread in your prepared pan. Bake 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick near the center comes out clean (NOT a mushy, gushy mess). DO NOT test the center for zero crumbs or you will overbake your brownies. A center test should reveal a couple of dampened crumbs. Closer to the center should be clean.
- Cool on a wire rack.
To Make the Frosting:
- Using an electric mixer, a hand mixer, or a spoon; cream the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, and the vanilla extract.
- Pour the full amount of possible milk needed in the measuring cup, but then ONLY stir in the smaller amount (1/4 cup) to make sure you don't add more than you actually need. You want the frosting to be a thicker consistency, yet still spreadable. Add more milk as needed. You should not need more than the full amount of milk.
- Let them cool completely before eating, as the flavor develops ("best NOT warm" as my cookbook notes say from October 12, 2020, but you do you. Give it a try, and see what you think).
Fudgy Brownie Recipe Made Using Oil
Out of butter again? I hate when I do that. Using oil, over butter, means no melting and cooling of chocolate either. It’s great for those times you lack butter or are short on time. After all, fudgy brownies use more butter (or fat) over flour. Those dry ingredients zap the fudginess right out of there.
Martha Stewart shares, “The amount of sugar and eggs does not change whether you’re going fudgy or cakey.”
It’s all about the fats and the method for the best fudgy brownies or, really, any brownie. You don’t want to mix with a heavy hand if you want a fudge-like texture. Cakey brownies do in part rely on how you cream them—and as we all know, overbeating a cake will make it flat and tough. Ew, David.
Fudgy brownies appear more often than my frosted brownies because I like having one snack I can whip up fast and that will pack into a lunchbox for the kiddos the next day without a ton of mess. I rely on this super speedy recipe to perk up the fam on down days. Walking into the door and smelling chocolate goodness is a surefire way to cheer up anyone.
Fast Homemade Fudgy Brownies with Oil
Fudgy Brownies with Oil
- 9-inch Square Baking Pan
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil (or Canola Oil)
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Flour
- 350*. Grease a 9" square baking pan and set aside.
- Mix oil and sugar until combined.
- Add eggs and vanilla. Combine.
- Mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Stir dry ingredients into the oil/sugar mixture.
- Pour into greased 9 x 9 square pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until sides just starts to pull away from the pan.
- Cool completely before slicing.
- Double and bake in 13 x 9 pan. FYI: You will get less fudgy brownies due to the pan size.
Fancy Fudgy Brownies (with Butter and Two Kinds of Chocolate)
These brownies take a little longer to throw together than the oil-based fudgy brownies above. That’s because these brownies have you melt chocolate and butter together over a double boiler (or a pot with a glass bowl over the water, not touching the water). But, it also includes cocoa powder AND melted chocolate so you get a better dose of chocolate than melted chocolate can provide alone.
Even so, it is still a pantry staple kind of brownie recipe. This one does call for an 8″ square pan. My aluminum pan is a 9-inch, so I used a glass baking pan. I believe that’s why the oven temperature is set at 325* (with a longer baking time) to allow for the difference in material. Eh, I did a little Googling beforehand. I did skip the parchment paper-lining of the pan as indicated in the original recipe. I greased the baking dish and left it at that. We aren’t going to turn the brownies out, as they are going to be stored in the pan anyway.
Do let these brownies cool to room temperature before you did in. The chocolate needs time to develop. They just taste better that way. Trust me. Recipes inside Bake from Scratch magazine are always amazing. Always. I used to pick up the magazine from the rack back in Indiana. It’s not in the stores where I am in Pennsylvania. I missed it so much, I became a subscriber. Bake from Scratch is fancy, a step (or three) above the usual, but still accessible.
Fudgy Brownie Recipe Using Butter
- 8-inch Baking Pan
- 1 Cup (8 Ounces) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
- ¾ Cup Butter, Cubed
- 1 Cup Sugar
- ¾ Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Packed You can use light brown sugar, but it won't be the same.
- 1¼ Cups Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ¾ teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder
- 4 Large Eggs Room Temperature and Lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 325* oven. Grease an 8" baking pan and set aside. (Note: the original recipe says to line the pan with parchment paper. Your call. I did not).
- Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler and stir to combine. I use a bowl that sits above the pot of simmering water (the water DOES NOT touch the bowl).
- Turn off the heat. Add the granulated and the dark brown sugar to the melted chocolate and butter mixture. It won't be smooth.
- Remove from the heat and let cool 3-5 minutes (adding eggs to the hot mixture would cause thin white strings of egg in your finished product, since the heat would cook the egg white).
- Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder.
- Slowly add the eggs to the chocolate and sugar mixture. I set the eggs in a liquid measuring cup, beat them, then drizzled them into the mixture, while stirring with my other hand.
- Add in vanilla extract.
- Fold in flour mixture to the chocolate and sugar mixture JUST until combined. When you see a couple of floury streaks, tread slowly: You are almost done mixing!
- Spread batter into the greased pan.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Leave, cooling, in the pan for 15 minutes. If you used parchment paper, remove the brownies from the pan, cool completely on a wire rack, and then store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
Brownies Done Right
When I was a kid, and I know you’ve heard this story before, but, that’s what friends do, right? Share the same stories over and over, and pretend it’s the first time they’ve heard it or at least pretend not to mind hearing it yet again?
Since you are here and baking and into cookbooks like I am, we are most certainly friends.
My grandma taught me how to play Money Bunco (“once you put a penny in…”), Concentration (the card game, starting out with the royal cards to match when I was REALLY little), and the value of a good old classic TV show (though she did enjoy watching South Park and The X-Files back in the late 1990s with me). Anyway. My grandma baked box mix brownies a lot. Gross, I know. But, it was “the thing to do” then. I think she over-mixed and over-baked them. Her brownies were hard as a rock. The edges were inedible. My dad used to make jokes about using them to pave the driveway. I still ate them because: Frosting. She still frosted them. Hey, it was likely from a can too, but to my immature and sugar-obsessed palette—it was good.
Fast forward quite a bit and…I wasn’t all that into brownies as an adult. I never made them. It wasn’t until I was married that I delved into brownie baking. Now, there are entire cookbooks devoted to brownies. Who knew they could be so good, soft, and inexpensive (a very important factor when we were young)?
I know that’s not just me.
Brownies are the same way. There’s a type of brownie for everyone. What’s yours? What’s your go-to brownie when you are having “one of those days?” Please, let me know. I love to talk food!