I made brownies today!

Discussion in 'Desserts' started by Teeth Brusher, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    I made brownies today! This was my first attempt using a recipe from scratch as opposed to a box mix. I have to admit, I’m not a huge snob about box products. I remember eating Betty Crocker brownies in college and loving the texture.

    I thought this go was pretty good. The chewy texture is quite nice. I wish it were a bit crustier on the outside. I love a nice crunch on the edges of a brownie, I think my biggest complaint is the chocolate flavor. It doesn’t taste deeply, intensely of chocolate. Maybe the issue is my choice of dark chocolate. I should have used Scharffen Berger chocolate perhaps, but I have no idea where to find that in Russia. I used a dark chocolate from the candy shelves.

    But other than the chocolate selection, is it possible that the recipe could be improved upon? I’d greatly appreciate any comments and suggestions for favorite brownie recipes!

    The ingredients of the recipe:
    • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
    • 125g dark chocolate, chopped
    • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
    • 335g (1 1/2 cups) CSR White Sugar
    • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
    • 30g (1/4 cup) Dutch cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Pinch of salt
    http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/classic-chewy-brownie/f0960a83-1fa9-4e3e-b616-a995182613e0

    Alterations: I cut the sugar a bit (280 grams). I think I could have used even less. The brownies came out pretty sweet to me. I didn’t have Dutch processed cocoa, so I looked up the appropriate amount of baking soda to add to regular unsweetened cocoa.

    Thanks!

    (I wanted to insert a pic I took of the brownies from my iPad, but I don’t know how!)
     
    Teeth Brusher, Mar 10, 2018
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  2. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    I’m really dumb. I didn’t notice the “Upload File” option lol. Here is my first attempt at homemade brownies!
     

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    Teeth Brusher, Mar 11, 2018
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  3. Teeth Brusher

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Those brownies look good. Yes the cocoa powder does make a difference. Natural cocoa powder produces a more delicate chocolate flavor.

    You can enhance the chocolate flavor by adding a couple of teaspoons of espresso powder. Not dried coffee, but espresso.

    That’s a lot of sugar. Plus the chocolate is sweetened, yes? I actually use unsweetened chocolate. As a child brownies were always made with unsweetened chocolate. No cocoa powder. But in the age of decadence, people started adding sweet chocolate, then tons of chocolate chips in addition to the chocolate in the batter. Then cocoa powder; then increased the sugar, then dumped in some brown sugar. Geez, It’s at a point now where the American brownie is completely unedible as its nothing but a super sugar bomb.

    Back in the good old days this is how we made brownies similar to the recipe made famous by Katharine Hepburn. This
    • 113g (8 tablespoons) butter
    • 60g (2 oz) unsweetened chocolate
    • 225g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) sugar
    • 110g (2 large) eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 40g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 227g (1 cup) chopped walnuts (optional—but in my option nuts are a requirement:))
    When this recipe was printed in the New York Times, thousands of people commented on it. Some pariased. Many scorned. One commentor actually became famous for the essay she wrote on this recipe. She ended up revising it and it was printed in the New York Times.

    Sydne Newberry's Spin On Katharine Hepburn's Brownies
    * This recipe is based on Katharine Hepburn's original, with modifications made by Newberry.

    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 1 stick butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup broken up walnut or pecan pieces (for better flavor, toast the nuts at 350 F for about 5 minutes)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Pinch salt
    Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 325F.
    2. Grease an 8-inch-square pan. (Line it with aluminum foil, overhanging on all sides.)
    3. Melt butter in a saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth.
    4. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
    5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
    6. Stir in vanilla.
    7. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts and salt.
    8. Add to the cocoa-butter mixture. Stir until just combined.
    9. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes. (Do not overbake: Center should still be a little gooey.)
    10. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. If foil lining is used, lift from pan and cut into 16 squares on a cutting board.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 11, 2018
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  4. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the feedback and recipes! They look great!

    Yes, I felt the brownies definitely could have used less sugar. I was dubious about the “dark chocolate” the recipe called for. I wasn’t sure whether to interpret this as unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate. Since I had a bunch of “everyday” eating dark chocolate sitting around, I went with the latter.

    I hear you about decadence! Like, I feel so many recipes I find online are really over the top on sugar. It’s jist craziness to me when stuff like additional chocolate chips, toppings, etc are added when the base dessert is already sweet. This is one of my most consistent struggles with dessert recipes: trying to figure out the minimum amount of sugar required to achieve the desired sweetness and texture. Unfortunately I’m not an experienced enough baker to have a sense of sugar to other-ingredients ratios to get a sense of this, so I’m keeping notes after I make something. Maybe I’ll figure it out at some point! :)
     
    Teeth Brusher, Mar 11, 2018
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  5. Teeth Brusher

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Like any hobby, the more you work at it, the better you get at it. I’ve been baking for 20 years. I’ve also had benefit of professional level training. Still I make mistakes. Still I learn new things about the science of baking. And I’m constantly experimenting. I usually bake 3-4 times a week.

    My approach to baking is balance. Too much of any one ingredient or flavor not only overwhelms and distracts from the experience of eating.

    What good is eating something if all that is tasted is sugar? And too if the water can’t taste and distinguish the different flavors it’s a waste to even use all those the ingredients.

    It’s not to say you cannot use a lot of different components. Certainly some of the French entremets are very complex. But they always strife for balance.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 11, 2018
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  6. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    20 years, wow! How did you into baking professionally? I wish I had taken classes on baking when I lived in the States. I'm sure classes are available in my area, but I'm not aware of any in English. Also, I don't think Russians are very disciplined in their approach to food, so I'm not sure I would learn much. It drives me bonkers when I see people using everyday cutlery spoons to measure teaspoons and tablespoons. This is REALLY common.

    Do you have any suggestions for blogs or sites that provide the essentials of baking from your point of view? I have so many questions in my mind burning all the time. Like, is the toothpick test REALLY suitable for testing doneness? Because I've had a lot of quick breads come out underdone using this method. Why use parchment paper for lining instead of greasing a pan with butter and flour-ing? Why do some recipes call for BOTH parchment paper and greasing a pan? Etc etc etc! So many questions lol.
     
    Teeth Brusher, Mar 12, 2018
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  7. Teeth Brusher

    Becky Administrator

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    Those brownies look delicious! Awesome job :)
     
    Becky, Mar 12, 2018
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  8. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    Thank you very much! I was quite pleased with this being my first attempt. The brownies are all gone lol!

    Now, I am making Russian doughnuts (пышки) for the first time. Lord knows I've had plenty practice eating them! :)
     
    Teeth Brusher, Mar 12, 2018
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  9. Teeth Brusher

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

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    The brownies look fantastic!!! I have a couple of different recipes I use when I make them from scratch - one I premake the dry mix and keep it in pantry for grabbing as needed - you add oil, eggs, etc. The other I make from scratch starting with melting a cup of butter on the stove and stirring sugar into that.

    Brownies do have a lot of sugar! I've noticed that the recipes made with oil tend to crumble a lot more that the ones I've made with butter.

    I must confess, I always add chocolate chips to mine too. It's a sickness.

    I draw the line at icing on my brownies, for me that would just be too much!
     
    AuntJamelle, Mar 20, 2018
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  10. Teeth Brusher

    Teeth Brusher Well-Known Member

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    Thank you!

    Wow, a premix! Nice. Oh dear God. The thought of icing on brownies is giving me a toothache lol.
     
    Teeth Brusher, Mar 20, 2018
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