The Brownie Trinity: Fudgy vs Chewy vs Cakey

Different strokes for different folks is true even for brownies. While all brownies are good, especially when you get to take the time to make them yourself, they’re not all equal. Some are denser and feel more like biting into the perfect slice of chocolate cake while others are gooey and chocolatey.

These differences in taste and texture are caused by slight variations of the fat to flour ratio in your recipe. Fat can come in the form of butter and chocolate, which, in turn, affects the moisture and flavor of the cake. More flour will balance out the moisture for a drier, more crumbly texture.

Once you break out your brownie pan and all of your ingredients, you may be wondering just what brownie you want to make. This is especially true if you’re new to baking and haven’t quite figured out what type of brownie is right for you. That’s why it’s important to become familiar with all three types of brownies - fudgy, chewy, and cakey - so you can decide the best type of brownie for you.

Fudgy Brownies

Like the name suggests, biting down into a fudgy brownie is like biting down onto a rich piece of fudge or even a truffle. The chocolate flavor is rich and the texture is moist thanks to the larger fat to flour ratio.

Unlike in cakey brownies, where you cream your butter and sugars much like with a cake recipe, most recipes for fudgy brownies call for you to melt chocolate with butter over low heat. This helps keep your moisture and flavor in the brownies. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate in order to preserve that deep chocolate flavor! If you’re familiar with boxed mixes, then you may have noticed that you add an extra egg to help achieve the dense, gooey texture of this brownie. For an extra punch of flavor, these brownies also use cocoa powder.

You should also be careful to not over mix your brownies, especially once the flour is added. Over-beating your brownie batter can ruin your texture and cause too dense brownies.

Chewy Brownies

While you may be familiar with fudgy and cakey brownies - especially if you use box mixes which tell you just how many eggs to add to achieve your desired texture - you might not have heard of the third option: chewy. Chewy brownies are a classic that many people know and love, even if they don’t known the specifics of the brownie trinity. Fudgy and cakey brownies are both good in their own ways, but if you’re looking for a way to combine both of the best qualities from them, chewy is the way to go.

Chewy brownies find the middle ground between fudgy and cakey, which is why they’re universally loved. They have the same dense, chocolateliness of fudgy brownies, but they balance that out with some of the light, elasticity of cakey brownies. Chewy brownies have a deep chocolatey flavor. The edges have an enjoyable crust, and the insides are light, gooey, and oh-so lovable.

 Chewy brownies use more flour than fudgy brownies but less than cakey. The result is a well-structured but still moist bite as well as a reduced denseness.

Cakey Brownies

If you’re looking for a thicker, lighter recipe, then cakey brownies might just be the way to go. They’re the thickest of the brownie trinity, and they have a lighter, airier texture just like a good old fashioned piece of chocolate cake. This is because of lower amounts of fat and larger amounts of flour. Most recipes also call for baking powder as an additional leavening agent.

 However, just because they’re cakier, these brownies still have enough moisture to be enjoyable! The center is light and fluffy, with a bit of elasticity in every bite thanks to the fact they’re less dense.

 Unlike chewy and fudgy brownies that tend to utilize the method of melting butter with chocolate, cakey brownies involve the creaming process. This means that you blend sugar and butter together until they form a creamy consistency that you then add your dry ingredients too.

 Want the thickest brownies possible? Only grease the bottom on your pan. As your brownies rise, they’ll need something to adhere to. If you grease the sides and the bottom, they won’t have anything to adhere to while rising, reducing the maximum thickness your brownies will be able to achieve.

Additional Brownie Tips

Looking for more tips to achieve that perfect consistency of brownie? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. While the difference between fudgy, chewy, and cakey brownies lies in recipe variations, there are also other things you can do during baking to help preserve and improve your brownie’s texture.

For example, make sure you don’t overbake your brownies, especially if you’re going with a fudgy or chewy texture. Overbaking can strip your brownies of their moisture and structure. Knowing the right time to pull them out of the oven can be difficult, however. There’s no true science to it either. You can follow the baking instructions, but time can still vary based on your climate and oven. That’s where the old toothpick trick comes in.

Simply stick a toothpick into the center of your brownies and pull it out to see if your brownies are done. Cakey brownies, the toothpick should come out clean. For fudgy and chewy brownies, which are moister than cakey, the toothpick may come out with crumbs. If you’re unsure whether or not they’re done, you can always leave them in the oven with the heat turned off or on the counter in the pan to finish cooking those last few minutes.

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