It took us nearly one whole month, but we did it: We tested more than 50 batches of brownies. We didn't do this to ourselves for the hell of it—we did it because too many people are relying on bad boxed mixes. Over the course of our testing (and tasting), there were a lot of sugar crashes and a lot of fails. But in this desperate and trying attempt to achieve brownie perfection, we learned a lot—and we're not about to keep it all to ourselves. Below is our handy guide to save you from our mishaps so you can make perfect homemade (chewy, fudgy, cakey, or gluten-free!) brownies. Save it forever and make all of our cocoa-filled misery worth it. Please?
Mistake #1: Too Much Flour
Brownies don’t need a lot of flour. Of our four main recipes, cakey brownies clock in with the largest amount of flour, at 1¼ cups. That’s not a lot. For context, most chocolate sheet cakes call for at least 2 cups. If you add too much flour, your brownies will likely come out too dry and taste stale.
If you’re following a recipe to a T and your brownies still taste too dry, you may be overpacking the flour during the measuring process. We recommend spooning flour into a measuring cup then gently leveling the top with back of a butter knife. If you scoop straight from the flour bag, you risk scooping too much!
Mistake #2: Overbaking
Brownies should always have some moist crumbs come out with a toothpick. If your toothpick is clean, your brownie’s crumb will be dry and cakey, but not in a good way. Even our cakey brownie doesn’t call for a clean toothpick test!
Mistake #3: Too Much Cocoa Powder
More cocoa powder doesn’t necessarily mean a stronger chocolate flavor. Instead, it makes brownies taste like dirt. Trust us on this one.
Mistake #4: Too Many Eggs
When trying to make a fudgy brownie batch, our first thought was to add more eggs—which worked to an extent. But, most obviously, too many eggs will make brownies taste eggy. What was more surprising to us was that fresh from the oven, the over-eggy brownies looked like a souffle. Then in a matter of minutes, they sunk DRASTICALLY.
Mistake #5: Not Enough Sugar
In trying to intensify the chocolate, some of us tried to reduce the sugar. When the sugar content decreased by too much, the brownies came out very flat and tasted both bitter and dry. When whisking (or beating) together sugar and fat, you’re incorporating air into the batter and thus creating lift in your brownies. Less sugar means less beating means flat brownies.
Mistake #6: Too Much Fat
Sadly, more butter is not always better. When too much fat is incorporated, brownies become extremely fudgy, in a seriously bad way. They’re slick and greasy, two traits you never want to hear when you’re talking about baking.
Mistake #7: Yolks Only
In an effort to create the fudgiest brownie, Makinze thought she should try using yolks only. Terrible mistake. The resulting brownies were dry, crumbly, and quite frankly, inedible. Taste testers said they tasted like sand, which was harsh but not untrue.
Mistake #8: Cutting Too Soon
If you’re struggling to cut your brownies, they’re likely too warm. For clean squares with pretty edges, you must wait until they’re cooled to room temperature. Make it easier on yourself and bake them the night before.
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