brownie fail

jdepressed
Posted on 06/11/2012 by merlynspen
I've made this recipe twice: http://bunsinmyoven.com/2009/10/15/good-ol-homemade-brownies/comment-page-2/#comments

because frankly, I think they look like my absolutely ideal brownie. Ridiculously rich, ridiculously fudgy and gooey, not cakey at all.

And both times, it has failed.
Not so much that they're inedible, they're still decent. But certainly not amazing, and, dare I say, not even as good as the Ghiradelli boxed brownie mix. (Which, for a box mix, is pretty good.) They're still kind of cakey. I thought 4 eggs seemed like a bit much for a fudgy brownie, but I went with it.

The majority of the comments are about how awesome the recipe is, but there are a handful that had the same experience I did. The batter was not remotely pourable, it was really more of a dough. etc.

The first time, I just figured I did something wrong in my carelessness, or had some old ingredients, or something. So the second time, I was hyper-aware of everything. I even used my candy thermometer (recently verified as temp-accurate) to check the temp of the sugar/butter. (The King Arthur site, where it comes from, lists the suggested temps.) I was way more particular than I ever usually am about careful measuring. I spooned the flour into the measuring cups like I'm supposed to (as opposed to normally, when I lazily scoop it out with the measuring cup!) and I used new cocoa, new flour, all new ingredients. It was marginally more pourable, but not crazily so. I timed it for less time than needed (and I bake a lot, so I'm pretty familiar with my oven's temp and quirks, etc.) and it seemed like it should be okay, but once they started cooling, they got a bit cakier and drier and just generally was a disappointment.

Anyone tried this recipe and had this experience, or more importantly, anyone know what could be going on here? I'd love brownies like the ones pictured. (Which, it should be noted, also look fudgier and denser than the ones on the King Arthur site, so I was kind of wondering if the blogger changed something and forgot to note it, like less eggs.)

I'm almost tempted to try it again with only 2 eggs, but I really don't want to keep wasting the ingredients on just "eh" brownies.
layers_of_eli 11th-Jun-2012 10:09 pm (UTC)
Karly (that blogger) is SUPER sweet and I'm sure she'd be awesome about troubleshooting with you! the Buns In My Oven FB wall might be a good place to troubleshoot.

I had a friend who recently gave me one of the KAF brownies and they were gooey and rich and amazing like the ones pictured, but I know that doesn't exactly help. I can't remember for the life of me if I'm making this up, but she might've actually said she omitted an egg!

Are you using the same size baking dish?

P.S. It's hard to beat the Ghirardelli box mix, honestly -- that thing is better than 95% of the homemade brownies I've tried.
ringsandcoffee 12th-Jun-2012 01:53 am (UTC)
Ghiradelli is seriously hard to beat. It's my comparison brownie; the 2 scratch recipes I've tried still don't come close.
ejia_arath03 12th-Jun-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Now I'm curious. I suppose I'll have to hunt down one of those Ghirardelli box mixes and try it out.
frenchroast 11th-Jun-2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
I'd decrease the egg and add a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil. I tend to use oil instead of butter in brownies, and I've rarely had a problem--though I've never used this particular recipe.

And decrease the cooking time, since you said they got cakeier as they settled. I almost never cook brownies for the recommended time--you get the fudgieness through undercooking.

Alternatively, you might just want to find a better recipe.
ringsandcoffee 12th-Jun-2012 02:45 am (UTC)
The note on this recipe says using Dutch cocoa will have more of a pudding taste. Maybe that was my mistake - I've only tried with natural cocoa powder. Oh, and the Baker's one-bowl recipe too.
mysid 12th-Jun-2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
I LOVE the Baker's one-bowl recipe. It's super easy, and I've always gotten nice rich, fudgy results. I do bake it in a 9x9 pan instead of a 13x9 pan, however. (I like my brownies thick.) Sometimes I add chocolate chips, but not always. But I always omit the nuts. (A) I don't like nuts in my brownies, and (B) my son is allergic.
merlynspen 14th-Jun-2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link! I'll have to give them a shot.
maddiec24 11th-Jun-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
The Ghiradelli mix is *amazing*! I like it better than my recipe(which is the Hersey Cocoa recipe, with 1 egg omitted), but my husband likes homemade.

I would definitely omit 1, if not 2, eggs from the recipe you tried, and decrease the cook time slightly.
jcad6169 11th-Jun-2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not a great cook like y'all but I use chocolate syrup instead of oil and decreased egg to 2. I also do not cook mine as long as recommended.
applestory 11th-Jun-2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
I love fudgy brownies too!! I have my own recipe if you want to try... ^^
http://happygirlscutefood.blogspot.sg/2012/03/vegan-chocolate-brownies.html
kathiann 12th-Jun-2012 01:13 am (UTC)
I made these the other day

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/cocoa-brownies-recipe/index.html

they were amazing. Fudgy, not cake like in the least bit and very very rich.
mysid 12th-Jun-2012 01:16 am (UTC)
It's time to give up on that recipe. Too many eggs, and you tried twice with cakey results. Try one of the other recipes recommended in the comments. (And you might want to post a comment at the original site describing your less than stellar results--serve as a warning to others thinking of trying the recipe.)
layers_of_eli 12th-Jun-2012 02:51 am (UTC)
Not only a warning, but to help the blogger troubleshoot the recipe -- I personally rely on folks reporting back to make sure recipes are happenin' like they're supposed to in other people's kitchens. It's like the interwebz recipe tests for each other :)
merlynspen 12th-Jun-2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
I may post a comment.. the funny thing is that there *are* a handful of comments like mine on the post, and none of them were ever answered. *shrug*
etantvert 12th-Jun-2012 01:38 am (UTC)
Can't link to it, but go to Bon Appetit magazine's site and look for browned butter cocoa brownies. It is my go-to brownie recipe and they are perfect every time -- fudgy with a slightly crackling top. The only change I make is using brewed coffee instead of water.
pakaboori 12th-Jun-2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
Seconding this! Here's a link. I do find they test infinitely better the next day, though, so maybe make them late at night.
etantvert 12th-Jun-2012 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks -- I was on my phone at the time. I agree, they do get even better overnight.
pakaboori 12th-Jun-2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
Hah, that recipe is too good not to share :)
pakaboori 12th-Jun-2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Eep, I meant taste. And I personally haven't tried using coffee yet, but it sounds like an excellent change.
jackalopejess 12th-Jun-2012 02:23 am (UTC)
This is my personal favorite brownie recipe.

http://khaoskomix.tumblr.com/post/22924364009/what-the-fuck-ever-brownies-1-splash-of-baking

Haha, not really. Obviously that's a gag recipe but I thought in this context you might get a chuckle out of it. =]
ejia_arath03 12th-Jun-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
"Smear Nutella on top" are words to live by.
frankiefan13 12th-Jun-2012 04:42 am (UTC)
Now I want to try and make bacon brownies. With nutella on top. Hmm...
merlynspen 12th-Jun-2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
lol.
owner_of_dooom 13th-Jun-2012 05:00 am (UTC)
This is pretty much my general way of cooking. I now really want to try brownies with condensed milk on top :D
rhodielady_47 12th-Jun-2012 05:33 am (UTC)
Hmmmm. Did you use both brown sugar and white sugar in your recipe?
I didn't have any luck making brownies until I used both. The fudginess just didn't show up without the dark brown sugar in the recipe.
Hope this helps.
:)
aravistarkheena 12th-Jun-2012 05:41 am (UTC)
You could be over beating the batter. With things like quick breads and brownies, you want to just mix the stuff together so it's all blended. Over beating it can lead to that more cakey texture, I've found. Use a wooden spoon, rather than an electric mixer.

4 eggs does not seem excessive for a 9X13 inch pan. My brownie recipe also calls for the same amount of eggs for the same size recipe. It is a fudgey recipe as well.


merlynspen 12th-Jun-2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
I do use a wooden spoon, and I'm good about not overmixing. :)
Karly Campbell 12th-Jun-2012 01:17 pm (UTC)
Hey there!

I'm sorry you're having such problems with the brownies! I have had a few people comment that they aren't turning out well for them either, but the majority of people who've made them fall in love. It's strange that they work out for some and not for others! Personally, I've had no issues at all with them and I make them every couple of months. Could it be an altitude issue? I'll admit, I know nothing about baking in different altitudes than my own. (I'm in Illinois.)

The only changes I made from the original KAF recipe was to use whatever type of cocoa powder I had on hand. I've never had issues using either type, though I do usually go for the Hershey's Special Dark (it's what is available in my small grocery store) and that's a blend of natural and dutch process. I also recommend semi-sweet chocolate chips in the recipe, whereas KAF just said "chocolate chips." Other than that, there were no changes. I do use all 4 eggs.

I might go ahead and make these again today if I get a chance and photograph along the way. Maybe that will give a better idea of the consistency my batter is and I can document each step and see if I'm doing something crazy and not writing it down for you guys. ;)

And, if you're curious to see them in action a second time, here's another post where I used the same recipe but added in PB m&m candies. http://bunsinmyoven.com/2011/07/21/peanut-butter-mm-brownies/
merlynspen 12th-Jun-2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
Nah, not an altitude thing, I'm just in Massachusetts.
It's so strange, I don't get it! And they look so good!! :(

If you do make them again and can photograph along the way I'd love to see it. Maybe if I can pinpoint when mine starts to look different we can trouble shoot from there. :)
loudmere 12th-Jun-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
if it is a KAF recipe.. you can always email them. Their bakers are amazing about troubleshooting. I've emailed them about their Brownies before..they recommended using a metal pan with that "No-Fail" recipe.
sunspotted 13th-Jun-2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I just put my opinion in a separate response, but this is a good note. Brownies and glass pans don't mix very well IMO. Glass is for baking chicken. :) I also use waxed paper (parchment is too expensive) so I can lift the whole pan out in one piece.
merlynspen 14th-Jun-2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
I do use metal for my brownies. :)
cherie_xx my go-to, tried, tested and loved brownie recipe!12th-Jun-2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Jamie Oliver's brownies are amazing, they're always thick and gooey! I've got a batch cooling in the kitchen right now!

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/bloomin-brilliant-brownies
merlynspen Re: my go-to, tried, tested and loved brownie recipe!14th-Jun-2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
Mmm, they look delicious!
ray_ch Brownie Win13th-Jun-2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
These. Are. Amazing.

I think your problem is too much flour. This recipe below uses less than half the amount of flour than your fail recipe. I made brownies for the first time a couple weeks ago and I'm still feeling pretty good about myself :)

And I like em gooey n chewy in the gizzards, with a crumbly top *drooooools*

http://www.theinternetchef.biz/2011/11/incredibly-edible-double-chocolate-fudge-brownie/

I also added whatever-I-feel-like amounts of dark, milk and white chocoloate chunks AND my favourite component WALNUTS.
merlynspen Re: Brownie Win14th-Jun-2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
Alright, so clearly I just need to have a bake-all-the-brownies week and try each of these recipes! Looks sooo good!
sunspotted 13th-Jun-2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Here's a different viewpoint. I just took a pan of brownies out of my oven and that recipe is almost exactly my brownie recipe and I have people driving hundreds of miles to buy my brownies. Second only to my cinnamon rolls, I often use them for bribes. :) I use a bit less flour and less sugar and less salt and I add some nuts and booze, but otherwise the same. The difference might be in execution. She says to beat everything together in a stand mixer and I think that's why you're getting more of a cake and less of a brownie.

Melt 1 c. butter. Add 2 c. sugar and mix it in well but don't cook it until the sugar dissolves that's too long. Add 1 c. cocoa and 1 T. coffee powder and flavouring and mix by hand. Whisk your 4 eggs in a separate bowl. Add them to the butter mixture quickly (let it cool about 15 minutes first). Add in 1/2 t. salt and 1 t. baking powder and a scant cup of flour. Mix until the flour is incorporated only. Add chocolate chips, nuts, pieces of chocolate bar, caramels, whatever. Your batter should be thick but just pourable and it should still be warm. Bake at 325 for about 24 minutes (my oven is gas, electric will be different, just be careful to not overbake) until the edges are done. Let sit as long as people will wait.

Delicious, fudgey brownies. So maybe you'll try it again?

P.S. If you are using Dutch process cocoa, that requires a bit more of an adjustment in the recipe. Let me know and I'll shoot you my mods.
merlynspen 14th-Jun-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
I will give that a shot, thanks for the tips.

I have both Dutch and non, but I think I'm almost out of the non. If you can send over the adjustments just in case, that'd be awesome. Thanks!
ringsandcoffee 13th-Jun-2012 11:38 pm (UTC)
I tried this recipe today. I would have tried 3 of the recipes (this and ones in comments) if I had enough cocoa powder. I don't know how the blogger got her batter so shiny like in the photo. Mine was super thick even after my oh-so-scientific method of adding a couple of eggshells worth of water. I had to bake them about 5 minutes longer than recommended.

I just tried a cooled brownie, which was moist but cakey. Out of the 3 scratch recipes I've tried, I like this one best. Several brownie recipes say they taste even better the next day, so we'll see with these. Maybe next time I'll replace an egg or 2 with oil.
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