Brownies are one of the most popular desserts in America, so it’s no surprise that you’ve tried your hand at baking them a time or two. However, if you find that your brownies aren’t coming out as good as you hoped, you may be wondering where you went wrong.
Now, before you throw out all of your brownie making tools, don’t worry! Making brownies can be difficult, especially since they’re so different from other common recipes like cakes. That’s why we’ve devised this list of some of the most common brownie errors so you can know what to avoid in order to have better brownies every time.
Top 6 Most Common Brownie Mistakes
1.Using a glass pan
Glass pans are perfect for casseroles. For brownies? Not so much.
Glass pans are designed to be non-stick, which means that your brownies won’t be able to cling to the sides of the pan while cooking. Being able to rise along the side is important for brownies. Like a flower, they need plenty of room to grow. Otherwise they'll remain flat and will bake faster, resulting in dry, flakey brownies.
Instead of a glass pan, trying using a dark pan, such as this one.
2. Picking the wrong recipe for you
Not all brownies are created equal. If you’re wondering why you love brownies so much when someone else makes them but find yourself tossing out whole pans at home, it might not be that you’re making them wrong. Instead, you could just be using a recipe that isn’t your taste.
There are three main types of brownies: fudgey, chewy, and cakey. Some of the variations you may know best - blondies, vegan brownies, etc - also fall under these three categories. These categories refer to the texture of the brownies after cooking, and they’re a result of slight variations of the fat/oil to flour ratio. Cakey brownies are more akin to cake and have a higher ratio of flour, while fudgey is more gooey and chocolatey with a higher ratio of fat.
If you’re interested in learning more about the three different types of brownies, make sure to check out our blog post, The Brownie Trinity: Fudgey vs. Chewy vs. Cakey.
3. Not letting your chocolate cool
Just like how adding cold ingredients to your batter can mess it up, so can adding hot ingredients. Now, when you’re melting chocolate, it has to get pretty hot. If you don’t let it cool and add it directly to your batter, you’ll risk scrambling your eggs when you whisk it all together.
So, instead of adding in your melted chocolate as soon as your take it out of the stovetop (or the microwave, there are lots of ways to melt chocolate), let it sit for a few minutes. You don’t want to wait so long that the chocolate becomes filmy or stiff - just enough that it isn’t still at its melting point.
You may have heard of the toothpick trick. If you haven’t, the toothpick trick is a technique where you stick a clean toothpick into the center of brownies to see if they’re done. Often, many people base it off of whether the toothpick comes out clean.
This works perfect for cakes. For brownies, not so much?
Unlike a cake where you remove the layer from the pan and allow it cool on a rack, brownies will continue to bake in their pan after you remove them from the oven. As a result, if you wait until the toothpick is dry to take them from the oven, then they’ll already be well overcooked. The result is dry, crumbly brownies that lack the choclately richness and gooeyness of chewy brownies.
5. Mixing too much or too little
It’s hard to know exactly how much to mix when it comes to brownies.
If you don’t mix enough, you’ll be munching down on lumps of cooked flour and coco later. If you mix too much, gluten will form and your brownies will be stiff and dry.
As a result, you should aim for something known as the ribbon stage. This is the perfect middle ground that will help you get better tasting brownies with a pleasant texture. The ribbon stage is the point of which you can lift your whisk or spoon from the bowl and the batter will drop off of it in a smooth ribbon. In the bowl, the ribbons will lay on top of each other and meld back into the remaining batter with smooth, seamless lines.
6. Digging in too soon
Now, listen - we understand. After you’ve spent so much time measuring and mixing and baking your brownies, you want to dive in as soon as they’re out of the oven. Who wouldn’t?
However, if you’re really trying to nail the perfect brownie - such as the one of out that cooking magazine that just looks too good to be true - then you should let them cool. A good rest period is around 25 to 30 minutes after the oven.
Like mentioned above, your brownies will continue cooking after you take them out of the oven. This is why the clean toothpick test doesn’t exactly work as it’ll leave you with a dry slab of chocolate rather than delicious brownies. If you dig in during this crucial finishing period, you’ll really be missing out on the flavor. And while it may seem like a single bite won’t hurt, cutting and removing pieces from the pan while it’s cooking will cause larger amounts of heat to escape at once. This means that certain parts won’t be as good as others, and you’ll end up with an uneven and average batch of brownies.
Leaving your brownies to cool can also help preserve those sharp, picture-perfect edges. Cutting while the brownies are still hot can lead to messy crumbling and half-collapsed edges that, while still just as tasty to eat, don’t look as good as a cooled brownie’s edges.